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Re: [XTalk] Crucifixion, burial, PN, apologetics etc.

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... crucifixion ... spite ... crucified (v. ... outside ... by ... concerning ... I m beginning to empathize with Bill Murray s sense of *deja vu* in the movie
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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      On Groundhog Day 2002 Ted Weeden wrote:

      > And, I quote
      > from Robert Funk and the Jesus Seminar, _ The Acts of Jesus_ (155): "In
      > the collective judgment of the Fellows, the details of the [Markan]
      crucifixion
      > scene were inspired largely by Psalm 22 and related prophetic texts. In
      spite
      > of that firm conviction, none of the Fellows doubts that Jesus was
      crucified (v.
      > 24a). They are confident that he was crucified in Jerusalem, at a site
      outside
      > the old city walls. Just about everything else in the story was inspired
      by
      > some scripture." I was not a part of JS when deliberations were held
      concerning
      > the crucifixion narratives. Mahlon Smith probably knows how that went.

      I'm beginning to empathize with Bill Murray's sense of *deja vu* in the
      movie that gets rerun at this time every year. Long time subscribers to the
      old Crosstalk may remember that exactly 4 years ago this February we were
      engaged in a long heated argument regarding Dom Crossan's thesis regarding
      HJ's non-burial & the JS's votes on the PN. Unfortunately, the Crosstalk
      Yahoo!group archives do not go back that far. But in checking them I found
      that they begin with discussion of how to preserve & archive the posts in
      that debate. Now here we go again. Old arguments never die, they just get
      recycled. And it is good to see that this recycled theme has resurrected
      Antonio Jerez & Bill Arnal as active participants (Bob S is always with
      us!). Due to other urgent obligations I cannot at this time jump into the
      fray as substitute champion for Crossan's argument (or expound on my own
      arguments regarding tombs, etc.) as I did 4 winters ago. But I can list the
      main points in this line of thinking.

      1. The oldest surviving report of HJ's crucifixion/burial/resurrection --
      the primitive kerygma cited by Paul in 1 Cor 15 -- does not situate these
      events in historical time/space but rather presents them in an apologetical
      format of happening "according to scripture."

      2. Nowhere in Paul's letters does he show any knowledge of or interest in
      the historical circumstances of HJ's crucifixion/burial but instead is
      concerned only with visionary experience of the resurrection.

      3. The gospels (all probably composed after Paul's death) present
      contradictory information regarding the date/time of HJ's crucixifion &
      demonstrate the development of apologetical arguments by echoes OT texts &
      conflicting dramatic scenarios regarding the tomb scene.

      4. Given the controversial nature of accounts of HJ's
      crucifixion/resurrection, points 1-3 are difficult to explain on the
      supposition that HJ's disciples had *transmitted* direct detailed
      information regarding the actual historical circumstances of the crucifixion
      or burial. For that raises the improbable spectre of Paul suppressing such
      historical details & the evangelists altering publicly known facts.

      5. Therefore the majority of the JS concluded that it was easier to assume
      that HJ's closest disciples did *not* know or communicate the exact
      historical details regarding HJ's fate beyond the fact of his arrest &
      crucifixion. Justification for that position is found in the gospel reports
      that the disciples fled at his arrest & were probably not eye-witnesses to
      all the subsequent "events" reported in the gospels' PNs. (Personally I
      still think there is some kernel of historicity behind the story of Peter's
      denial). Differences in reporting what happened to HJ (the date/time of the
      crucifixion, resurrection appearances, etc.) would therefore make sense as
      independent attempts at plausible reconstruction by narrators who had strong
      religious convictions but a paucity of historical facts to work with.
      Similiarities between the gospels' PN could be traced to a primitive core
      narrative that all used. But the JS could not reach consensus on what that
      core PN was. Crossan & a few others championed the Cross gospel. Fortna, I &
      some others argued for historical priority of the Johannine SG PN. Most
      others favored Mark. But in any case, all agreed that which ever version of
      the PN was prior, the primary interest of the author who composed it was
      apologetical rather than historical.

      Now I'll step back I watch where this year's replay of the Groundhog Day
      debate takes us ;-)

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

      Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
    • bjtraff
      ... Oh dear Mahlon, are you saying that the Teacher may have been right after all in Ecclesiastes 1:9? ;-) ... I wonder, if by this statement, the JS was
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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        --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Mahlon H. Smith" <mahlonh.smith@w...> wrote:

        > …Old arguments never die, they just get recycled.

        Oh dear Mahlon, are you saying that the Teacher may have been right
        after all in Ecclesiastes 1:9? ;-)

        > 1. The oldest surviving report of HJ's crucifixion/burial/
        > resurrection --the primitive kerygma cited by Paul in 1 Cor 15 --
        > does not situate these events in historical time/space but rather
        > presents them in an apologetical format of happening "according to
        > scripture."

        I wonder, if by this statement, the JS was thinking that Paul did not
        think that Jesus had actually died on the cross in real time/space?
        Of course, this is an absurdity, and I am certain that the fellows
        would deny any such thoughts, yet one is left to wonder at their
        reasoning. When Paul tells us "that Christ died for our sins in
        accordance with the scriptures" is he insisting that there was no
        death? When he goes on to tell us "that he was buried, that he was
        raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures" is he
        actually saying that Jesus was buried according to the scriptures?
        The sentence structure certainly does not suggest this, since the
        object of the second linkage to scriptures is clearly the
        resurrection, not the burial. And even if Paul was telling us that
        Jesus was buried "according to the scriptures", would he be claiming
        any more than when he tells us in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus was "born
        of woman, born under the law"? Certainly I am not familiar with a
        single scholar that disputes that Jesus would have been circumcised
        on the eighth day (as per Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3, and that his
        mother would have undergone the ritual purification as per Leviticus
        12:2, 4, 6-8. One does not have to accept Luke's account of these
        happenings to agree that they almost certainly happened. Yet, for
        some reason, some scholars see fit to treat the burial of Jesus
        differently, and then (in my opinion) only because the admission that
        a tomb is historical will then require them to account for why it was
        later reported to be found empty. Such an easy escape from one
        problem should not be permitted however, and each claim should be
        treated on its own merits. Jesus was buried in a tomb, and this is
        as close to historically certain as we can get, second only to the
        fact of the crucifixion itself. As to whether it was found empty
        later on (or not), is a separate issue, and must be treated
        independently.

        As I have argued previously, Paul is relating a story already well
        known to the Corinthians, and he certainly did not have the questions
        and speculations of 21st Century NT scholars in mind when he wrote
        about it. When he says that Jesus died according to the scriptures,
        he means that Jesus was hung on a tree (cross), condemned under a
        curse as per the law of Deuteronomy 21:23, and Paul even tells us
        this specifically, connecting his thought to this passage directly in
        Galatians 3:13. When he then goes on to say that Jesus was
        resurrected according to the scriptures, we are left with more of a
        puzzle, as we have no clear passages left to us, nor any cited
        elsewhere by Paul as to what he means by this. Some have speculated
        that Paul is giving a truncated version of his own midrash on
        the "sacrifice" of Isaac found in Genesis, and commented upon so
        extensively by the rabbis, at least since the 2nd Century BCE.
        Personally, I do not know, but I consider this to be a separate
        question to that of simple burial.

        Thus, once again I will restate, *all* of the evidence, from all four
        Gospels, Paul, and even the Cross Gospel tells us that Jesus was
        buried, and with the exception of Paul (who certainly would have
        believed it in any event), this is said explicitly to have taken
        place in a tomb. Scholarly speculation to the contrary may be a
        wonderful (and oftentimes even useful) thing, but until it can
        produce even a single bit of supporting evidence in support of its
        hypothesis, simple prudence should tell us that we should accept that
        which at least has some evidence, as opposed to that which has none.
        The fact that the claim of burial in a tomb is neither extraordinary,
        nor unprecedented (even in 1st Century Palestine) should reinforce
        this tendency.

        > 2. Nowhere in Paul's letters does he show any knowledge of or
        > interest in the historical circumstances of HJ's crucifixion/burial
        > but instead is concerned only with visionary experience of the
        > resurrection.

        This is largely a nonsequitor, as no where in Paul's letters does he
        show any knowledge or interest in the historical circumstances of
        HJ's origins in Nazareth, preaching in Galilee, final trip (or any
        trips for that matter) to Jerusalem, nor a host of other historical
        events in the life of Jesus, yet many of these are never questioned.
        As I have said above, the reason to reject the historicity of the
        tomb seems predicated largely on the unwillingness to address the
        more difficult issue of the "emptiness" of that same tomb later on.
        This is bad methodology, as historians are not generally allowed to
        reject evidence only because it causes problems either with their own
        worldviews, nor when acceptance of the evidence will leave them with
        other seemingly more important unanswered questions.

        Quite simply, the problem of the empty tomb cannot be used as
        justification for denial of a tomb at all. Something more
        substantive must be offered.

        > 3. The gospels (all probably composed after Paul's death) present
        > contradictory information regarding the date/time of HJ's
        > crucixifion & demonstrate the development of apologetical arguments
        > by echoes OT texts & conflicting dramatic scenarios regarding the
        > tomb scene.

        As others have no doubt argued (and certainly they have in many of
        the books I have read), contradictory accounts of an event does not
        equate automatically to rejection of the event entirely. Operating
        under such a premise would make our court system nonfunctional in the
        extreme. Resolutions of disputes on even routine matters would be
        impossible. Finally, even having an apologetic motive for an
        argument does not negate its value.

        There are no dramatic contradictions in the depiction of the burial
        of Jesus. At most, we can argue for legendary embellishment (i.e.
        John's expansion on the person of Joseph of Arimathea), or open
        apologetic (the guard at the tomb scenario found in Matt and
        GPeter). Attempts to overstate these differences strike me as
        nothing more than special pleading, as we could use similar reasoning
        to deny the assassination of Julius Caesar, or the death of Cassius
        at the hands of the Persians, to say nothing of the cases where we
        have only a single account of how some famous person of antiquity
        died. Would scholars prefer that only one Gospel account survived?
        And if so, would they give it any more credence than they give to the
        four (five) we do have, simply because it stands alone? If they did,
        I would be truly amazed.

        > 4. Given the controversial nature of accounts of HJ's
        > crucifixion/resurrection, points 1-3 are difficult to explain on the
        > supposition that HJ's disciples had *transmitted* direct detailed
        > information regarding the actual historical circumstances of the
        > crucifixion or burial. For that raises the improbable spectre of
        > Paul suppressing such historical details & the evangelists altering
        > publicly known facts.

        What is difficult about having differing accounts of a story? Does
        anyone know exactly what happened the day that Abraham Lincoln was
        assassinated? Do we really know how many conspirators were involved
        in the death of Julius Caesar?

        In any case, one need not blindly accept or reject all of the
        information contained in the Gospels as if they were linked as some
        kind of indivisible organism. We can examine each claim based on its
        own merits, and using the criteria established to evaluate historical
        claims. At best we will arrive at a level of probability ranging
        from virtually certain to virtually impossible, or somewhere in
        between. But to say that some contradictions and variations must
        cause us to reject the story in toto is hopelessly naïve.

        > 5. Therefore the majority of the JS concluded that it was easier to
        > assume that HJ's closest disciples did *not* know or communicate
        > the exact historical details regarding HJ's fate beyond the fact of
        > his arrest & crucifixion.

        And as we can see, this simply denies that Paul tells us, as well,
        that Jesus was also buried, and that all four Gospel accounts happen
        to agree with him on this point, as does the Gospel of Peter/Cross
        Gospel. Would that we had so much agreement on other events in the
        life of Jesus.

        > Justification for that position is found in the gospel reports
        > that the disciples fled at his arrest & were probably not eye-
        > witnesses to all the subsequent "events" reported in the gospels'
        > PNs. (Personally I still think there is some kernel of historicity
        > behind the story of Peter's denial).

        I have always found it strange that so much weight can be put on a
        reading of a text like Mark 14:50, when all that it says is that the
        disciples that were with Jesus *at the time of his arrest* fled. How
        far did they flee? Did any return? Did Peter? Rarely has so much
        been staked on such a weak argument from the silence as we see being
        made by the JS on this passage. Further, since the women (who do
        seem to be the principle witnesses to the events of the crucifixion
        and burial) are never mentioned in any Gospel account as being
        present at the arrest, why should we expect to think that they also
        fled? Finally, public executions like a crucifixion were not meant
        to be *not* seen by the criminal's compatriots. Quite the opposite
        in fact. For the Romans, destroying the leader in such a public and
        humiliating fashion was meant to serve as a warning to his followers
        to shape up and fly straight from that point forward.

        > Differences in reporting what happened to HJ (the date/time of the
        > crucifixion, resurrection appearances, etc.) would therefore make
        > sense as independent attempts at plausible reconstruction by
        > narrators who had strong religious convictions but a paucity of
        > historical facts to work with.

        What possible theological motives could one attach to a failing by
        all of the disciples, or even Jesus' family, to help in burying him?
        Certainly it was not unheard of for people to be crucified and
        buried, even by the family and friends. If all of the evangelists
        agree that this could not have happened in the case of Jesus, then
        one is left to ask why not? So ingrained was the belief that no one
        that was with Jesus from the beginning (nor even anyone that was
        related to him) helped to bury him that we have *no accounts* from
        any one at *any* time that says otherwise. Given the embarrassment
        of this fact, and the clear multiple attestation of the fact of
        burial, one is left to wonder why some scholars would wish to reject
        it. Personally I have yet to see even a single good reason, let
        alone supporting evidence, for such a rejection.

        > Similiarities between the gospels' PN could be traced to a
        > primitive core narrative that all used. But the JS could not reach
        > consensus on what that core PN was. Crossan & a few others
        > championed the Cross gospel. Fortna, I & some others argued for
        > historical priority of the Johannine SG PN. Most others favored
        > Mark. But in any case, all agreed that which ever version of
        > the PN was prior, the primary interest of the author who composed
        > it was apologetical rather than historical.

        This probably just highlights the inherent difficulty in trying to
        decide history by consensus. If a camel is simply a horse designed
        by committee, then bad historical reconstructions are merely
        historical studies written by committee. A small quibble here, but
        my understanding is that the Signs Gospel only encompasses John 1-12,
        and Passion is found in the "Book of Glory" John 13-20. In any
        event, there may be merit to the PN source for GJohn serving as
        source for GMark as well, but we are no closer to resolving that
        question than we are to resolving the question of the earliest Birth
        Narrative source.

        > Now I'll step back I watch where this year's replay of the
        > Groundhog Day debate takes us ;-)

        I too am interested in seeing where this takes us, though I am
        hopeful that those proposing a non-burial of Jesus will be willing to
        offer some supporting evidence for their claims.

        Thanks for your contribution Mahlon.

        Be well,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • William Arnal
        ... Nonsense, and this is such a clear example of a confusion that keeps cropping up in this discussion, that I can t resist commenting. I ll refrain from
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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          Brian Trafford wrote:

          >of woman, born under the law"? Certainly I am not familiar with a
          >single scholar that disputes that Jesus would have been circumcised
          >on the eighth day (as per Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3, and that his
          >mother would have undergone the ritual purification as per Leviticus
          >12:2, 4, 6-8. One does not have to accept Luke's account of these
          >happenings to agree that they almost certainly happened. Yet, for
          >some reason, some scholars see fit to treat the burial of Jesus
          >differently, and then (in my opinion) only because the admission that
          >a tomb is historical will then require them to account for why it was
          >later reported to be found empty.

          Nonsense, and this is such a clear example of a confusion that keeps
          cropping up in this discussion, that I can't resist commenting. I'll refrain
          from "yelling," but read the following sentence as if in caps: There is
          difference between asserting the historicity of an event because it is
          intrinsically plausible, and asserting its historicity because we have
          reliable sources that accurately attest to it. The circumcision of Jesus is
          an excellent example. Nearly all NT scholars would probably claim that it is
          indisputable that Jesus was circumcised. The reason they would agree on this
          has NOTHING to do with the reliability of the notice in Luke, or any
          assumption that Luke had any specific information to this effect. Rather,
          they would agree on this point because of the assumption that Jesus, as a
          Galilean Jewish male, is extremely likely to have been circumcised. And that
          Luke agrees with this, only indicates that Luke drew the same conclusion,
          not that he had some source that accurately portrayed this event. With the
          burial, the situation is slightly different: first, there is not agreement
          as to the intrinsic likelihood of the burial of a crucifixion victim (as I
          indicated in an earlier post, I BELIEVE the literary evidence is somewhat at
          odds here with the material evidence); and second, there is not agreement on
          the reliability ofthe sources of information on this point (i.e., it could
          be that Paul and the gospel writers had theological or literary reasons for
          making the claims that they do, rather than reliable sources of
          information). So until these two issues are cleared up in some definitive
          way, the analogy with the circumcision is unhelpful.

          >treated on its own merits. Jesus was buried in a tomb, and this is
          >as close to historically certain as we can get, second only to the
          >fact of the crucifixion itself.

          Hardly! It is NOT attested in Paul (Jesus is "buried," he claims, but
          doesn't say anything about a tomb); and there are good reasons for
          questioning both Paul's assertion that Jesus was buried, and those in the
          gospels. In any case, it is unclear why you make this claim -- once again,
          do you say this because the alternative is too intrinsically implausible, or
          because you think we have solid evidence?

          >Thus, once again I will restate, *all* of the evidence, from all four
          >Gospels, Paul, and even the Cross Gospel tells us that Jesus was
          >buried, and with the exception of Paul (who certainly would have
          >believed it in any event), this is said explicitly to have taken
          >place in a tomb.

          Given that (probably) all four gospels are literarily linked, this
          accumulation of evidence is no accumulation at all. "All four gospels say .
          . ." translates responsibly into "Mark says," or at the absolute most, "Mark
          and John agree." Notably, "all four gospels" agree on lots of stuff,
          including events whose historicity is widely denied, such as the feeding
          miracles or (I think) the walking on the water.

          >produce even a single bit of supporting evidence in support of its
          >hypothesis, simple prudence should tell us that we should accept that
          >which at least has some evidence, as opposed to that which has none.

          The evidence would be and must be and could only be: a) the tendentious or
          otherwise unreliable character of the burial assertions; and b) the
          intrinsic implausibility (if this is indeed the case) of a crucified
          criminal receiving a burial in Judea. These points have in fact been
          addressed in some of the posts on this thread, and by the Jesus Seminar, so
          it is inaccurate to say that NO evidence has been produced. Better would be
          to say you are unconvinced by this evidence, and to indicate why.

          >This is bad methodology, as historians are not generally allowed to
          >reject evidence only because it causes problems either with their own
          >worldviews,

          This is not exactly true. I wouldn't regard any historian who claimed that
          Mohammed really DID fly to Jerusalem to be worth anything as a historian,
          precisely because such a person was evidently uninterested in ruling out the
          impossible.

          Bill
          ___________________________
          William Arnal
          Department of Religion
          University of Manitoba

          "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
          -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



          _________________________________________________________________
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        • bjtraff
          ... {Snip my stuff on Jesus circumcision being true, even if we have little hard evidence to that effect} ... No need to yell Bill, though I can appreciate
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "William Arnal" <warnal@h...> wrote:

            {Snip my stuff on Jesus' circumcision being true, even if we have
            little hard evidence to that effect}

            To which Bill replied:

            >Nonsense, and this is such a clear example of a confusion that keeps
            >cropping up in this discussion, that I can't resist commenting. I'll
            >refrain from "yelling," but read the following sentence as if in
            >caps:

            No need to yell Bill, though I can appreciate your passionate
            feelings on this issue. :-)

            > There is difference between asserting the historicity of an event
            > because it is intrinsically plausible, and asserting its
            > historicity because we have reliable sources that accurately attest
            > to it.

            Agreed. What you have failed to do in this response, however, is to
            explain why it is intrinsically implausible for Jesus to have been
            buried, let alone buried in a tomb. I have already outlined in depth
            (in my post "Jesus buried in a tomb" of Feb. 4 at 12:56AM) why I
            accept it as having happened. You are free to rebut any or all of
            the points I have made in that post, of course, but until someone
            makes a case based on the evidence, and addresses the evidence that
            runs counter to their own beliefs, all that we are left with is
            assertions and speculation.

            > The circumcision of Jesus is an excellent example.

            Thank you. That's why I chose it. I hoped it would help clarify the
            point. :-)

            > Nearly all NT
            > scholars would probably claim that it is indisputable that Jesus
            > was circumcised. The reason they would agree on this
            > has NOTHING to do with the reliability of the notice in Luke, or
            > any assumption that Luke had any specific information to this
            > effect. Rather, they would agree on this point because of the
            > assumption that Jesus, as a Galilean Jewish male, is extremely
            > likely to have been circumcised.

            This was my exact point Bill. Given Jewish circumcision laws, we
            would expect them to have been followed in Jesus' case, and unless
            compelling evidence is brought forward to argue otherwise, it is
            accepted that Jesus was, in fact, circumcised, probably at eight days
            of age. As regards the necessity of accepting Luke's account, please
            see again from my original post where I said specifically "One does
            not have to accept Luke's account of these happenings to agree that
            they almost certainly happened."

            As you can see, thus far you and I are in full agreement.

            > With the burial, the situation is slightly different: first, there
            > is not agreement as to the intrinsic likelihood of the burial of a
            > crucifixion victim (as I indicated in an earlier post, I BELIEVE
            > the literary evidence is somewhat at odds here with the material
            > evidence); and second, there is not agreement on the reliability of
            > the sources of information on this point (i.e., it could
            > be that Paul and the gospel writers had theological or literary
            > reasons for making the claims that they do, rather than reliable
            > sources of information). So until these two issues are cleared up
            > in some definitive way, the analogy with the circumcision is
            > unhelpful.

            And I have already dealt with these issues in my post "Jesus buried
            in a tomb", and thereby shown why your reasons for scepticism are
            misplaced. The example of Jesus' circumcision was deliberately
            chosen on my part to help make this point. You have already agreed
            that the specific textual evidence for the circumcision is scanty (as
            in, only Luke mentions it specifically, and Paul's reference is less
            than direct). In fact, Paul's reference (born of a woman, born under
            the law) could be said to show no interest in whether or not Jesus
            was born or circumcised in a specific moment of space/time (to use
            Mahlon's expression). Does this mean it did not happen at all? You
            and I (and Mahlon as well I assume) would probably agree that it did
            happen.

            Now, Paul says, in relation to Jesus' burial, that Jesus was died
            according to the scriptures, was buried (also according to the
            scriptures? The text does not exactly say), and rose according to
            the scriptures. Since Jesus most certainly did die (I don't think we
            disagree here either), then saying it happened according to the
            scriptures is hardly evidence that it did not happen, no more than
            Paul saying the Jesus was born under the law is evidence that he was
            never born. It does not even show that Paul does not care if it
            happened in a specific moment in space/time. More likely is that
            Paul is passing over a point over which there is no debate.

            Now I hope you can see how confused the logic becomes once we
            approach the question of whether or not Jesus was buried. Is Paul
            any more, or less explicit on this point than he is on Jesus being
            born, being circumcised, or dying? Obviously the answer is no. So,
            is Jesus' burial inherently less plausible than these other three
            events? Well, birth and death are hardly arguable facts, but in the
            case of circumcision, one could, I suppose choose to be sceptical,
            though this would be a rather odd point of view. There is certainly
            no evidence to support a sceptical point of view on this question.
            And in the case of burial, the Jewish laws are no less explicit than
            they are on circumcision. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 could hardly be less
            clear, and Josephus tells us in _Jewish Wars 4.5.2_ that the "Jews
            were so careful about funeral rites that even those who are crucified
            because they were found guilty are taken down and buried before
            sunset." Obviously burial of crucified Jews in peacetime was the
            norm. But I am rehashing arguments I have already presented
            previously, and I again invite you to read my original post, as it
            goes into this in greater depth.

            I then wrote:
            > >treated on its own merits. Jesus was buried in a tomb, and this is
            > >as close to historically certain as we can get, second only to the
            > >fact of the crucifixion itself.

            And your "yelling" apparently continued:
            > Hardly! It is NOT attested in Paul (Jesus is "buried," he claims,
            > but doesn't say anything about a tomb);

            Just to pause here, I hope you would at least agree with me that
            Paul's words hardly leave much room for the hypothesis that Jesus was
            left to rot on the cross...

            > and there are good reasons for questioning both Paul's assertion
            > that Jesus was buried, and those in the gospels.

            I am certainly willing to listen to your good reasons Bill. Thus far
            I have not seen much from the sceptics beyond broad generalizations
            about how the ancients (and Christians in particular) didn't seem to
            care much about facts, and were much more interested in telling a
            good story. Sadly, such a position may be true, but it leaves us in
            a sceptical no man's land in which nothing interesting about the
            history of Jesus can really be discerned. After all, if the first
            Christians were more than happy to play fast and loose with even
            mundane facts like burial, why should we accept that Jesus came from
            Nazareth, or that his mother was named Mary, his father Joseph, and
            that he had some disciples that followed him around from place to
            place? I know I am starting to sound glib here, but I hope you can
            see the point that stands behind that "glibness."

            In any case, if you have reasons, please list them, and we can
            discuss them. At the same time, I hope you will reference them
            against the arguments I have already put forward previously.

            > In any case, it is unclear why you make this claim -- once again,
            > do you say this because the alternative is too intrinsically
            > implausible, or because you think we have solid evidence?

            There is nothing intrinsically implausible about Jesus being buried
            in some fashion besides a tomb, yet the Greek here (THAPTOS)
            certainly does not make it inherently implausible that he was buried
            in a tomb either. Acts 2:29 describes David as being buried using
            the same Greek, and also mentions a sepulchre, while Acts 5:6, 10
            uses THAPTOS to describe the burial of Ananias and Sapphira, so we
            have no obvious contradiction between Paul's meaning and that of the
            evangelists. Finally, given that we have unanimous agreement on the
            tomb in the Canonical Gospels as well as the Cross Gospel, and that
            the story is both reasonable and non-extraordinary, and that there is
            no other story offered to us (at least until J. D. Crossan came along
            with his hypothesis), I think it is perfectly reasonable to accept
            the historical accounts presented to us in the Gospels.

            Next I wrote:
            > >Thus, once again I will restate, *all* of the evidence, from all
            > >four Gospels, Paul, and even the Cross Gospel tells us that Jesus
            > >wasburied, and with the exception of Paul (who certainly would have
            > >believed it in any event), this is said explicitly to have taken
            > >place in a tomb.

            You replied:
            > Given that (probably) all four gospels are literarily linked, this
            > accumulation of evidence is no accumulation at all.

            I must pause here. First, I have not said that all of the Gospels
            were independent, though I believe that Mark and John are. Second,
            by any account (including if we accept Crossan's Cross Gospel), the
            earliest narrative accounts of Jesus' burial are of him being laid in
            a tomb. Finally, I have avoided relying upon assertions in my
            presentation of my evidence, as I do not believe it is helpful to do
            this. The question as to whether or not John and Mark are linked is
            clearly *not* settled, so any effort to hang one's evidentiary hat on
            such a weak reed is opening oneself up to serious challenge.

            It is also worth mentioning that the four Gospels agree on very few
            details unanimously, and none as clearly as they do regarding Jesus'
            burial in a tomb by one Joseph of Arimathea. I do not think that
            this is a small point, though I have not sought to build my case
            exclusively on this fact.

            Let me put it this way. We have testimony, at a minimum, from Paul
            *and* the Gospels that Jesus was buried. None of the evidence from
            any of these sources can be said to actually contradict this fact.
            Further, the accounts that have cared to offer specifics on this
            burial have all agreed that Jesus was buried in a tomb. Again, Paul
            does not contradict this testimony (and *cannot* be used to show such
            a contradiction). Finally, no competing stories have ever been
            produced by anyone (until the 20th Century that is), and those who
            remain sceptical of the claim are woefully lacking in evidentiary
            support for their scepticism (and especially for any alternative
            hypothesis they may choose to put forward).

            > "All four gospels say . . ." translates responsibly into "Mark
            > says," or at the absolute most, "Mark and John agree."
            > Notably, "all four gospels" agree on lots of stuff,
            > including events whose historicity is widely denied, such as the
            > feeding miracles or (I think) the walking on the water.

            Actually, all four Gospels agree on very little, though the feeding
            of the five thousand and walking on water does happen to be one of
            them (as a side note, the feeding of the four thousand does appear to
            be absent from John, however). Given the far greater number of
            disagreements and silences than agreements, it is generally (though
            not universally) accepted that John is probably independent. This
            is, however, another discussion, and we can set it aside for now.

            I wrote:
            > >produce even a single bit of supporting evidence in support of its
            > >hypothesis, simple prudence should tell us that we should accept
            > >thatwhich at least has some evidence, as opposed to that which has
            > >none.

            Bill answered:
            > The evidence would be and must be and could only be: a) the
            > tendentious or otherwise unreliable character of the burial
            > assertions;

            Perhaps, rather than asserting this, you could offer some evidence to
            support your belief in the "tendentious and otherwise unreliable
            character of the burial assertions" in the Gospels, and specifically
            in Mark, as we appear to agree that Mark's account does seem to be
            the earliest of the four.

            > and b) the intrinsic implausibility (if this is indeed the case) of
            > a crucified criminal receiving a burial in Judea.

            I have already shown that we have one clear archaeological case of a
            crucified Judean buried outside of Jerusalem no less, and the
            evidence points to his having been executed c. 20 CE. On this basis,
            I do not think we should be surprised that another man executed
            around this same time, during peace, in Jerusalem, was also buried in
            a tomb. In fact, given Jewish burial laws, and the paucity of
            evidence of criminals crucified in peace time not being buried, I
            would put the burden of proof on the sceptic making this assetion.

            Finally, as I have said previously, I am still waiting to see
            evidence that the Romans would not have allowed Jesus to be buried in
            a tomb.

            > These points have in fact been addressed in some of the posts on
            > this thread, and by the Jesus Seminar, so it is inaccurate to say
            > that NO evidence has been produced. Better would be
            > to say you are unconvinced by this evidence, and to indicate why.

            If some have, indeed, offered evidence, as opposed to opinion and
            simple argument based on educated guesses (or even mere assertions),
            then I will admit that I have missed it. If you could direct me to
            that evidence, or better still, offer it here, I would be grateful.

            I concluded:
            > >This is bad methodology, as historians are not generally allowed to
            > >reject evidence only because it causes problems either with their
            > >own worldviews,

            You replied:
            > This is not exactly true. I wouldn't regard any historian who
            > claimed that Mohammed really DID fly to Jerusalem to be worth
            > anything as a historian, precisely because such a person was
            > evidently uninterested in ruling out the impossible.

            Well, I would hardly place the claim that Jesus was buried in a tomb
            on the same level as one that Mohammed flew to Jerusalem. I also hope
            you are not claiming that Jesus' burial in a tomb is actually an
            impossibility (and I do not think that is what you meant to say, BTW,
            just that your wording could be construed to read that way). On the
            other hand, as many scholars seem unwilling, or unable, to address
            the question of the empty tomb, they do appear to have taken "refuge"
            in a complete rejection of the idea of a tomb at all. But this is
            not sound reasoning. Non-extraordinary claims (like burial in a tomb)
            do not require extraordinary evidence. I know that my opinion on
            this matter does appear harsh, but I see no other way to say it.
            Scepticism for scepticism's sake may be a way to view the world, but
            for an historian it is going to produce precious little in the way of
            knowledge of what probably happened in the ancient past. In my
            opinion, one should be more open to what is both plausible and
            possible, and be willing to accept even those things that may
            challenge one's fundamental beliefs and philosophical beliefs.

            Interestingly, in the case of Jesus being buried in a tomb, I do not
            see any cause for such a need to be sceptical. It is entirely
            acceptable to simply say, for example, that in the case of the empty
            tomb, we just do not know what happened. Quite simply, our inability
            to explain the empty tomb is not a valid reason to reject the
            evidence for the tomb all together. Yet I cannot deny the fact that
            many have elected to reject what evidence we *do* have for burial in
            a tomb in favour of hypothesis and speculation that is entirely
            without foundation or support. As I said, I think that this is bad
            methodology.

            Peace,

            Brian Trafford
            Calgary, AB, Canada
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Mahlon, I have had the same feeling so many times that I am no longer surprised. Almost every issue brought up on XTalk has been discussed on the old
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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              At 09:37 AM 2/4/2002 -0500, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
              >On Groundhog Day 2002 Ted Weeden wrote:
              >
              > > And, I quote
              > > from Robert Funk and the Jesus Seminar, _ The Acts of Jesus_ (155): "In
              > > the collective judgment of the Fellows, the details of the [Markan]
              > crucifixion
              > > scene were inspired largely by Psalm 22 and related prophetic
              > texts. In spite
              > > of that firm conviction, none of the Fellows doubts that Jesus was
              > crucified (v.
              > > 24a). They are confident that he was crucified in Jerusalem, at a
              > site outside
              > > the old city walls. Just about everything else in the story was
              > inspired by
              > > some scripture." I was not a part of JS when deliberations were held
              > concerning
              > > the crucifixion narratives. Mahlon Smith probably knows how that went.
              >
              >I'm beginning to empathize with Bill Murray's sense of *deja vu* in the
              >movie that gets rerun at this time every year. Long time subscribers to the
              >old Crosstalk may remember that exactly 4 years ago this February we were
              >engaged in a long heated argument regarding Dom Crossan's thesis regarding
              >HJ's non-burial & the JS's votes on the PN. Unfortunately, the Crosstalk
              >Yahoo!group archives do not go back that far. But in checking them I found
              >that they begin with discussion of how to preserve & archive the posts in
              >that debate. Now here we go again. Old arguments never die, they just get
              >recycled.

              Mahlon,
              I have had the same feeling so many times that I am no longer surprised.
              Almost every issue brought up on XTalk has been discussed on the old
              CrossTalk or even on XTalk. We are having some discussions among the
              moderators about how we might restore at least the more noteworthy portions
              of the old archives, and hopefully we'll figure out a way to get it done.

              > And it is good to see that this recycled theme has resurrected
              >Antonio Jerez & Bill Arnal as active participants (Bob S is always with us!).

              Too true, except for a 4 month hiatus near the end of the old CrossTalk,
              before I had figured out how to arrange things so that CrossTalk posts did
              NOT come to my computer at work. Sigh.

              > Due to other urgent obligations I cannot at this time jump into the
              >fray as substitute champion for Crossan's argument (or expound on my own
              >arguments regarding tombs, etc.) as I did 4 winters ago. But I can list the
              >main points in this line of thinking.

              I'll skip here to one noteworthy summary:

              >5. Therefore the majority of the JS concluded that it was easier to assume
              >that HJ's closest disciples did *not* know or communicate the exact
              >historical details regarding HJ's fate beyond the fact of his arrest &
              >crucifixion.

              Your choice of words here is significant, because you add "or communicate"
              and "& crucifixion" to Ted's minimalist summary. I continue to maintain
              that it is absurd to propose that the disciples did not "know" much about
              anything of these events. I like Jack Kilmon's phrase about the
              improbability of the disciples wandering in a Markan fog: Mark may have had
              reasons to want to convey that impression, but we need not suppose that the
              actual disciples wandered in the same fog. However, I consider it much more
              reasonable that, for one reason or another, some of what they knew did not
              get communicated to the authors of the gospels.

              > Justification for that position is found in the gospel reports
              >that the disciples fled at his arrest & were probably not eye-witnesses to
              >all the subsequent "events" reported in the gospels' PNs.

              Let us be very careful about what you (and Ted) are doing here. On one
              level is the testimony of the texts. One of the things you, Ted, and most
              exegetes do is reflect on what the disciples said and did *as they are
              depicted in the texts.* On another level, hidden from our view, is what the
              disciples *actually* said and did. One is testimony to the other, but is
              not the same as the other. On a third level, you make judgments about what
              within the world of the text was historical, and what was not, and you try
              to strip away those parts of the text that you deem to be unhistorical. It
              is not methodologically appropriate to start with texts written more than a
              generation after events, discard parts of those texts dealing with the
              disciples alleged awareness of events, and then proclaim that therefore the
              disciples (the actual historical real live disciples, not the disciples of
              the texts) were ignorant of the events. This is methodological confusion.

              If we focus on the world of the Gospel PNs (not to be confused with the
              actual historical Passion),
              1. Peter follows the captors and observes what is conventionally termed the
              trial (Mark 14:54-72; John 15:18-27)
              2. Mark 15:21 notes that "they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who
              was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry
              his cross." -- Simon then being a possible source of eye-witness testimony
              of those events;
              3. Mark 15:40 -41 and John 19:25-27 testify to women among Jesus'
              companions, and in John's case, one of the disciples, were witnesses of the
              crucifixion.
              4. And, of course, there is Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43-46; John
              19:38-40), whom John describes as a disciple of Jesus.
              (I do not copy citations for Matthew and Luke, as those are considered
              dependent on Mark).

              Therefore, within the world of the gospels, the disciples are not ignorant,
              and have access to eyewitness sources. Of course, none of the gospels say
              that the disciples were *not* there, so that in addition to those named,
              other disciples might have witnessed parts of the proceedings. But most of
              them, it is reasonable to suppose, that the Roman's intention of using
              crucifixion to intimidate the disciples had been quite effective, and that
              John 20:19 had it quite right in noting that "the doors being shut where
              the disciples were, for fear of the Jews."

              So it does not seem to me to be methodologically appropriate to do either
              of the following:
              1. To eliminate as "unhistorical" all the named witnesses to whom the
              disciples had access, and then to claim that they had no witnesses and were
              ignorant of what was happening, or
              2. To assume that the gospel accounts are a complete and exhaustive record
              of what the disciples knew or didn't know, so that unless the disciples are
              said to have known something in the Gospels, they can't have known it.

              But what do you say? Next, you wrote:

              > (Personally I still think there is some kernel of historicity behind the
              > story of Peter's
              >denial).

              And, in addition, in the Acts of Jesus, special place is given to Mary of
              Magdala (p.479) as an early witness to the resurrection-- in connection
              with verses which actually place her at the tomb, but since the Fellows
              decided that the tomb was unhistorical, Mary's witness is deprived of any
              context. But Mary Magdalene is reported by Mark (15:40) and John (19:25) to
              have been a witness to the crucifixion and burial (Mark 15:47), so Mary is
              another witness available to the disciples. It makes sense this way,
              because the Roman Intimidation did not apply as much to women (was a woman
              ever crucified?), so that Mary and other women associated with the
              disciples could openly be witnesses without danger.

              > Differences in reporting what happened to HJ (the date/time of the
              >crucifixion, resurrection appearances, etc.) would therefore make sense as
              >independent attempts at plausible reconstruction by narrators who had strong
              >religious convictions but a paucity of historical facts to work with.

              It would also make sense that, although the differences mean that some of
              them got their facts wrong, some of them *might* have gotten some of their
              facts right.

              Lest you lose track, I am still arguing against Ted's claim that the
              disciples (the real, historical ones) were ( to use Jack's phrase) lost in
              a Markan fog and didn't know where Jesus was or what had happened to him
              (at the time).

              Bob


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Mark Goodacre
              ... Thanks, Brian and others, for some useful discussion of these issues. In the spirit of Groundhog Day, one of the points I like to make on similar occasions
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                On 5 Feb 2002 at 1:42, bjtraff wrote:

                > Now, Paul says, in relation to Jesus' burial, that Jesus was died
                > according to the scriptures, was buried (also according to the
                > scriptures? The text does not exactly say), and rose according to the
                > scriptures.

                Thanks, Brian and others, for some useful discussion of these issues.
                In the spirit of Groundhog Day, one of the points I like to make on
                similar occasions relates to the interesting structure of 1 Cor. 15.3-
                4:

                -- that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
                -- that he was buried
                -- that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the
                scriptures,

                hOTI each time. This is the interesting for two reasons, (1) because
                "he was buried" appears to be a key element in the kerygma received
                by Paul and passed on to the Corinthians as of first importance.
                It's not just "dead and buried" as if the "buried" draws out the
                finality of his death. No, it's a separately stated item in this
                kerygma. (2) "according to the Scriptures" is conspicuous by its
                absence here. In other words, the burial tradition known to Paul is
                not explicitly derived from the Scriptures.

                When I gave my paper on "Prophecy Historicized or History
                Scripturized" at the recent SBL, Tom Wright asked at the end about
                the burial tradition and the apparent lack of obvious scriptural
                elements in the Gospel accounts. It made me think a little about
                this issue and it occurs to me that it is a weakness in Crossan's
                account. For if the earliest Christians had no knowledge about what
                happened to Jesus' body, one would have thought that this would be
                rife for the application of the "prophecy historicized" model. Yet
                in the burial stories we seem further away from the Scriptures than
                elsewhere in the Passion Narrative.

                In another post, Mahlon usefully brought up Isaiah 53.9:

                "And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his
                death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in
                his mouth."

                Brian Wilson brought up this text when we discussed this issue before
                on the old Crosstalk, and pointed out that the Gospel narratives
                actually conflict with this to the extent that there is no question
                of Jesus' "grave with the wicked" there. It's a case where the
                tradition appears to be resisting getting "scripturized". In other
                words, it's a pretty resilient tradition.

                > Actually, all four Gospels agree on very little, though the feeding of
                > the five thousand and walking on water does happen to be one of them
                > (as a side note, the feeding of the four thousand does appear to be
                > absent from John, however). Given the far greater number of
                > disagreements and silences than agreements, it is generally (though
                > not universally) accepted that John is probably independent. This is,
                > however, another discussion, and we can set it aside for now.

                Minor nitpick: walking on the water and 4,000 are absent from Luke.
                Re. the walking on the water, it's actually a common mistake.
                Fitzmyer and Tuckett both point out that Luke lacks Matthew's
                additions to Mark's story of the walking on the water and suggest
                that this is evidence of Luke's ignorance of
                Matthew. My feeling is that it is unlikely that Luke would include
                Matthew's
                additions to Mark's narrative of the Walking on the Water when that
                pericope is absent from his Gospel. But don't accept what I say --
                I'm in the minority : )

                Mark
                -----------------------------
                Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
                Birmingham B15 2TT UK

                http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                http://NTGateway.com
              • John Lupia
                To List: I do not know if anyone on this thread has yet has referred to the mitzvah given in Deuteronomy 21:22f “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                  To List:

                  I do not know if anyone on this thread has yet has
                  referred to the mitzvah given in Deuteronomy 21:22f

                  �If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death
                  and his corpse hung from a tree, it shall not remain
                  on the tree overnight. You shall bury it the same
                  day; otherwise since God�s curse rests on him who
                  hangs on a tree, you will defile the land which the
                  Lord, your God, is giving you as an inheritance.�

                  This commandment would appear to establish an
                  historical and cultural basis for the requirement to
                  bury the corpse of Jesus, and serve as the motivating
                  force behind Joseph of Arimathea's desire to bury the
                  body.

                  Cordially,
                  John

                  John N. Lupia
                  Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208-1731 USA

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                • Gordon Raynal
                  ... John Thanks for providing the quote. Do you imagine that this was followed, for instance, when Varus had 2000 crucified after the rebellion in Jerusalem
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                    >I do not know if anyone on this thread has yet has
                    >referred to the mitzvah given in Deuteronomy 21:22f

                    >This commandment would appear to establish an
                    >historical and cultural basis for the requirement to
                    >bury the corpse of Jesus, and serve as the motivating
                    >force behind Joseph of Arimathea's desire to bury the
                    >body.

                    John

                    Thanks for providing the quote. Do you imagine that this was followed, for
                    instance, when Varus had 2000 crucified after the rebellion in Jerusalem
                    after Herod's death or the three thousand that Archelaus slaughtered at the
                    beginning of his reign?

                    Gordon Raynal
                    Inman, SC
                  • John Lupia
                    ... Dear Gordon: I would have no way of knowing this. Archelaus seems to have instilled a reign of terror (see Matthew 2:22), so I doubt he cared about the
                    Message 9 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                      > Thanks for providing the quote. Do you imagine that
                      > this was followed, for
                      > instance, when Varus had 2000 crucified after the
                      > rebellion in Jerusalem
                      > after Herod's death or the three thousand that
                      > Archelaus slaughtered at the
                      > beginning of his reign?
                      >
                      > Gordon Raynal
                      > Inman, SC
                      >

                      Dear Gordon:

                      I would have no way of knowing this. Archelaus seems
                      to have instilled a reign of terror (see Matthew
                      2:22), so I doubt he cared about the commandment to
                      bury those whom he crucified. However, the time and
                      context of Jesus' crucifixion is altogether very
                      different, and Pilate, in accordance with Roman
                      policy, would have allowed a crucified Jew in Judea to
                      be buried if he was approached. So, the Joseph of
                      Arimathea narrative appears very plausible on an
                      historical basis.

                      Cordially,
                      John

                      John N. Lupia

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                    • William Arnal
                      ... Or behind Mark s desire to present Jesus as having been buried. Bill ___________________________ William Arnal Department of Religion University of
                      Message 10 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                        John Lupia wrote, re. Deut 21:22f:

                        >This commandment would appear to establish an
                        >historical and cultural basis for the requirement to
                        >bury the corpse of Jesus, and serve as the motivating
                        >force behind Joseph of Arimathea's desire to bury the
                        >body.

                        Or behind Mark's desire to present Jesus as having been buried.

                        Bill
                        ___________________________
                        William Arnal
                        Department of Religion
                        University of Manitoba

                        "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                        -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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                      • John Lupia
                        William Arnal wrote: Or behind Mark s desire to present Jesus as having been buried. My citation of Deut 21:22f was to show that in accoradance with sound
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                          William Arnal wrote:

                          Or behind Mark's desire to present Jesus as having
                          been buried.


                          My citation of Deut 21:22f was to show that in
                          accoradance with sound historical method there would
                          be a basis to establish the veracity of the Burial
                          Narrative (BN) in all 4 Gospels. My point was that
                          there are insufficient grounds to doubt the BN since
                          it is rooted in a cultural phenomenon of what we
                          should expect to find. The BN is certainly open to
                          historical scutiny, even the RN, excluding of course
                          the "Resurrection" itself which can never be
                          historically researched since it falls outside the
                          realm of historical and scientific method. However,
                          when looking into the BN there are many elements that
                          are consistent with Jewish burial customs that should
                          form a solid foundation to lend credence to the text
                          rather than healthy skepticism.

                          Cordially,
                          John

                          John N. Lupia


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                        • Gordon Raynal
                          ... John, I appreciate your opening admission, but wonder where you get your knowledge of Pilate who would have allowed a crucified Jew in Judea to be buried
                          Message 12 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                            >I would have no way of knowing this. Archelaus seems
                            >to have instilled a reign of terror (see Matthew
                            >2:22), so I doubt he cared about the commandment to
                            >bury those whom he crucified. However, the time and
                            >context of Jesus' crucifixion is altogether very
                            >different, and Pilate, in accordance with Roman
                            >policy, would have allowed a crucified Jew in Judea to
                            >be buried if he was approached. So, the Joseph of
                            >Arimathea narrative appears very plausible on an
                            >historical basis.

                            John,

                            I appreciate your opening admission, but wonder where you get your knowledge
                            of Pilate who "would have allowed a crucified Jew in Judea to be buried if
                            her was approached?"

                            Gordon Raynal
                            Inman, SC
                          • John Lupia
                            ... Dear Gordon: Roman procurators did not intefere with Jewish observance. Pilate had acted awkwardly in the beginning of his term attempting to impose Roman
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                              Gordon Raynal wrote:
                              > I appreciate your opening admission, but wonder
                              > where you get your knowledge
                              > of Pilate who "would have allowed a crucified Jew in
                              > Judea to be buried if
                              > he[r?] was approached?"

                              Dear Gordon:

                              Roman procurators did not intefere with Jewish
                              observance. Pilate had acted awkwardly in the
                              beginning of his term attempting to impose Roman
                              ensignia on the Temple, and quickly retracted. Roman
                              policy was to not intefere in the religious practices
                              in Palestine. So, if anyone approached Pilate stating
                              that a Jewish law such as that in Deut. would be
                              violated by not burying the corpse of Jesus, and that
                              person wished to fulfill the law and asked permission
                              for the body, it seems reasonable to assume that
                              Pilate would have complied.

                              Cordially,
                              John

                              John N. Lupia

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                            • Jack Kilmon
                              ... From: John Lupia To: Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 12:38 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Crucifixion, burial,
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: "John Lupia" <jlupia2@...>
                                To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                                Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 12:38 PM
                                Subject: Re: [XTalk] Crucifixion, burial, PN, apologetics etc.


                                > To List:
                                >
                                > I do not know if anyone on this thread has yet has
                                > referred to the mitzvah given in Deuteronomy 21:22f
                                >
                                > "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death
                                > and his corpse hung from a tree, it shall not remain
                                > on the tree overnight. You shall bury it the same
                                > day; otherwise since God's curse rests on him who
                                > hangs on a tree, you will defile the land which the
                                > Lord, your God, is giving you as an inheritance."
                                >
                                > This commandment would appear to establish an
                                > historical and cultural basis for the requirement to
                                > bury the corpse of Jesus, and serve as the motivating
                                > force behind Joseph of Arimathea's desire to bury the
                                > body.

                                Much of Deuteronomy has to do with the law and purity issues. In this case,
                                it is not a crucifixion but rather the display of the corpse on a tree or
                                stake for public effect. "God's curse" in this case is the impurity of a
                                corpse and putrifaction. In the case of Jesus crucifixion much depends on
                                who was in control. In this case, it was the Romans and the Prefect,
                                Pilatus. Pilatus would have no regard for Jewish sensibilities over the
                                corpse of Jesus. Most victims of crucifixion were left to the buzzards and
                                dogs but obviously there were exceptions such as Yehohanan bar Hgqwl whose
                                ossuary was found in his tomb at Giv'at haMivtar. The one thing that Roman
                                history tells us is that Romans were very bribable. Pilatus was known for
                                his avarice so I am willing to accept the account that Jesus was buried in a
                                rich man's tomb. I don't think the "empty tomb" is a scam....or
                                theologoumenon...or a Homeric novel. Something happened to make these
                                people believe they saw a resurrected Jesus. The believable choices are
                                limited. Either the Toma/Didymus/Twin references point to either a twin or
                                brother with remarkable resemblance; some sort of mass hallucination/vision
                                by distraught followers, or Jesus survived the crucifixion, perhaps again by
                                bribed Roman assistance.


                                Or........he was raised from the dead.

                                Jack

                                Jack
                              • John Lupia
                                Jack Kilmon wrote: Pilatus would have no regard for Jewish sensibilities over the corpse of Jesus. Most victims of crucifixion were left to the buzzards and
                                Message 15 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                                  Jack Kilmon wrote:

                                  Pilatus would have no regard for Jewish sensibilities
                                  over the corpse of Jesus. Most victims of crucifixion
                                  were left to the buzzards and dogs but obviously there
                                  were exceptions such as Yehohanan bar Hgqwl whose
                                  ossuary was found in his tomb at Giv'at haMivtar.

                                  Dear Jack:

                                  It is difficult to say whether or not Pilate would
                                  have had no regard for the corpse of Jesus having
                                  burial.

                                  (1) Roman agreements with the Palestinian kings were
                                  to allow them to practice their religion without
                                  interference. If a law prohibited a crucified felon
                                  hanging overnight that would defile the land it seems
                                  reasonable to assume that Pilate would have allowed
                                  any Jew interested in that mitzvah to fulfill it.

                                  (2) Pilate's earlier incursions: (a) Roman imperial
                                  portrait ensigns in Jerusalem, (b) imperial nomen
                                  shields on the Jerusalem Herodian palace; (c)
                                  misappropriation of Temple funds; (d) massacre at
                                  Samaria; all these offenses called him to task to
                                  answer complaints back in Rome. Further, the
                                  Palestinian kings had intimate friendships with the
                                  imperial Roman court. I'm sure after Pilate returned
                                  to Palestine after having a good chewing out at Rome
                                  he learned to be more cautious in his dealings and
                                  feared any future altercations that would send fresh
                                  ill reports back to Rome and cost him dearly in his
                                  career.

                                  (3) The mitzvah in Deut. is one of the 613
                                  commandments, which were strictly followed during the
                                  Second Temple era. It would seem rather odd that this
                                  rigid strict following of the letter of the law would
                                  suddenly be suspended in the case of Jesus' burial, in
                                  a Pharisaic atmosphere of strict adherence.

                                  (4) Pilate appears predisposed to not find Jesus
                                  guilty (Luke 23:15; John 18:38; Matthew 27:23; Mark
                                  15:14), and even attempted to release him according to
                                  the custom at festivals. Matthew 27:19 gives the
                                  account of Pilate's wife's dream that would indicate
                                  he had reservations to act against Jesus. All four
                                  Gospel's agree with this portrait of a Pilate who
                                  seems to want to squirm out of the trial and avoid
                                  condemning Jesus to the point that he "washes his
                                  hands" of it, a Roman gesture of quitting the case.

                                  (5) I agree with the possibility of a bribe being
                                  involved. These were violations even against Roman
                                  law which prohibited them. Yet, "politician" and any
                                  "government official" is corrupt seeking bribes by
                                  definition.

                                  There seems, at least in my mind, to be adequate cause
                                  to see an historical and cultural basis that lends
                                  credence to the burial narrative (BN).

                                  Cordially,
                                  John

                                  John N. Lupia
                                  Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208-1731 USA
                                  jlupia2@...


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                                • turton
                                  ... by ... I disgree. The *believable* choices are vast. The assumption that underpins arguments like the one Dr. Kilmon is making here is that human beings
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
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                                    >a
                                    >rich man's tomb. I don't think the "empty tomb" is a scam....or
                                    >theologoumenon...or a Homeric novel. Something happened to make these
                                    >people believe they saw a resurrected Jesus. The believable choices are
                                    >limited. Either the Toma/Didymus/Twin references point to either a twin or
                                    >brother with remarkable resemblance; some sort of mass hallucination/vision
                                    >by distraught followers, or Jesus survived the crucifixion, perhaps again
                                    by
                                    >bribed Roman assistance.
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >Or........he was raised from the dead.
                                    >
                                    >Jack

                                    I disgree. The *believable* choices are vast.

                                    The assumption that underpins arguments like the one Dr. Kilmon is making
                                    here is that human beings are rational actors when interacting within the
                                    framework of strongly-held identities. History shows repeatedly, however,
                                    that reality does not have a narrowly-rational effect on people who
                                    strongly hold to their identities, especially newly-adopted ones.

                                    In other words, what apologetic strategies like this propose is a dichotomy
                                    that argues that, if Jesus had really been left to rot on the cross, then
                                    his followers would have looked at him, shrugged, and then gone home to get
                                    on with their lives. Obviously, we must conclude, something must have
                                    happened.

                                    This is simplistic and grants too much empirical rationality to actors in
                                    such scenarios. In most cases, such actors are concerned not with rational
                                    adherence to the verdict of empirical reality, but with preservation of the
                                    new movement/identity. Let's consider a few actual cases.

                                    When Rebbe Schneerson, many whose followers believed him to have
                                    supernatural and prophetic powers, died in 1994, many expected the movement
                                    that had formed around him to collapse. After all, many of his followers
                                    had openly proclaimed him the messiah who would shortly ascend to save the
                                    world, and considered him immortal. This would be the "rational" fork of an
                                    argument like Kilmon's.

                                    However, when Schneerson died, instead of disappearing, the movement simply
                                    rewrote the story, making Schneerson the Messiah-who-will-be-Raised. The
                                    identity was more important than the reality. The Lubavitchers have split
                                    over the issue, but many still believe that he was the messiah and will
                                    return.

                                    I am sure many listmembers are familiar with Shabbetai Tzvi, the would-be
                                    Jewish Messiah who was captured by the Ottoman Empire. He converted to
                                    Islam to save his life. Certainly, in the mythical rational world posited
                                    by arguments like Kilmon's, his followers must have abandoned him! Sadly,
                                    in the real world inhabited by people for whom identity is more important
                                    than reality, many of his followers converted to Islam. It took decades to
                                    suppress his movement.

                                    In India Sai Baba, the Indian guru, continues to attract followers who
                                    believe he has supernatural powers, is omniscient, and omnipotent. This is
                                    despite the fact that Sai has been caught on film performing parlor magic.

                                    Similarly, on numerous occasions in colonial situations very much like that
                                    of first-century Palestine, magic was deployed against the bullets of the
                                    white man. Despite repeated and bloody empirical checks, in many cases
                                    followers never gave up their beliefs in the efficacy of such magic. The
                                    Xhosa revolt spurred by Mlanjeni's claim that magic twigs would stop
                                    bullets dragged on for three years (1850-1853). The maji-maji rebellion
                                    (magic water stops bullets) in E. Africa against the Germans went on for
                                    two years (1905-07). Magic water broke out again among the followers of
                                    Rembe in the same region in 1917-1919. In North America, the roughly
                                    contemporaneous Wovoka, the Paiute messiah, created the ghost dance, which
                                    led to the development of ghost shirts which would stop the white man's
                                    bullets. Same result as the other magic, but the revolt petered out much
                                    more rapidly, since many at Wounded Knee (1890) were wearing ghost shirts.
                                    I could give many similar examples. My favorite is Alice Lakawena, who led
                                    a revolt in Uganda in 1987. She told her followers their rocks and sticks
                                    would explode like hand grenades, and magic ointment on their chests would
                                    protect them. They were mowed down, of course. Her personal bodyguard,
                                    however, carried AK-47s!

                                    Consider also the Taipings, the religious movement led by the mad Hong Xiu-
                                    chuan, which led to a civil war in China that blew up into the second-
                                    bloodiest war in human history. When the last Taiping Generals surrendered
                                    or switched sides, despite the defeat of Hong, many who had betrayed Hong
                                    did not give up their conviction that he had performed miracles. It was too
                                    important to their identity.

                                    The alternative to the impoverished view of human nature suggested in
                                    Kilmon's dilemma above is to take a much more robust view of human
                                    responses to threats to in-group identity. Humans are not machines
                                    automatically adjusting their thinking to reality, like bacteria trophing
                                    toward food, but social primates for whom the in-group is *the most
                                    important reality.* It is so important that people will kill and die for
                                    it. Otherwise, how do we account for the deaths of 24 people who killed
                                    themselves to ride a UFO to a comet? Otherwise, how do we account for the
                                    scores of children killed in the US in the last 25 years, killed by parents
                                    who withheld medicine on religious grounds. They had made their children
                                    into a stage upon which they could play out their in-group identity, an
                                    identity more important to them than their own offspring. I would bet
                                    anything that not a single one of those parents has given up their belief
                                    (read "identity") either.

                                    Crossan is exactly right. Jesus' body rotted on the cross like that of most
                                    people executed by the Romans. In fact, given human nature, that is the
                                    most likely scenario, the best explanation for the emergence of a
                                    Resurrection doctrine. Resurrection doctrine emerged precisely *because*
                                    his death was witnessed by members of the movement, and precisely *because*
                                    he rotted and didn't get up again. It's not very far from "He will return"
                                    to "He has returned," especially if those who "witness" the return will be
                                    rewarded with enhanced status in the new in-group identity.

                                    One can easily imagine at the base of the cross, looking up at one very
                                    dead would-be messiah, were Jesus' bosom friends, whoever they were. And
                                    what did they do? Like the Lubavitchers, and the followers of Tzvi, and
                                    the maji-maji warriers, and the followers of Hong, and a thousand other
                                    groups confronted by reality, they shrugged, went home, and rewrote the
                                    script in order to rescue their new identity from a terrible blow.
                                    Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force for change, especially in
                                    religious doctrine.

                                    Michael Turton
                                    Dept of Applied Foreign Languages
                                    Chaoyang University of Technology
                                    Taichung, Taiwan










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                                  • Steve Black
                                    ... This seems plausible to me, except that I think the the notion of group identity doesn t capture *all* of what seems to be going on in the NT texts when
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
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                                      >
                                      >
                                      >The assumption that underpins arguments like the one Dr. Kilmon is making
                                      >here is that human beings are rational actors when interacting within the
                                      >framework of strongly-held identities. History shows repeatedly, however,
                                      >that reality does not have a narrowly-rational effect on people who
                                      >strongly hold to their identities, especially newly-adopted ones.
                                      >
                                      >In other words, what apologetic strategies like this propose is a dichotomy
                                      >that argues that, if Jesus had really been left to rot on the cross, then
                                      >his followers would have looked at him, shrugged, and then gone home to get
                                      >on with their lives. Obviously, we must conclude, something must have
                                      >happened.
                                      >
                                      >This is simplistic and grants too much empirical rationality to actors in
                                      >such scenarios. In most cases, such actors are concerned not with rational
                                      >adherence to the verdict of empirical reality, but with preservation of the
                                      >new movement/identity. Let's consider a few actual cases.
                                      >
                                      >[much snipped]
                                      >
                                      >Crossan is exactly right. Jesus' body rotted on the cross like that of most
                                      >people executed by the Romans. In fact, given human nature, that is the
                                      >most likely scenario, the best explanation for the emergence of a
                                      >Resurrection doctrine. Resurrection doctrine emerged precisely *because*
                                      >his death was witnessed by members of the movement, and precisely *because*
                                      >he rotted and didn't get up again. It's not very far from "He will return"
                                      >to "He has returned," especially if those who "witness" the return will be
                                      >rewarded with enhanced status in the new in-group identity.
                                      >
                                      >One can easily imagine at the base of the cross, looking up at one very
                                      >dead would-be messiah, were Jesus' bosom friends, whoever they were. And
                                      >what did they do? Like the Lubavitchers, and the followers of Tzvi, and
                                      >the maji-maji warriers, and the followers of Hong, and a thousand other
                                      >groups confronted by reality, they shrugged, went home, and rewrote the
                                      >script in order to rescue their new identity from a terrible blow.
                                      >Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force for change, especially in
                                      >religious doctrine.
                                      >
                                      >Michael Turton
                                      >Dept of Applied Foreign Languages
                                      >Chaoyang University of Technology
                                      >Taichung, Taiwan
                                      >

                                      This seems plausible to me, except that I think the the notion of
                                      group identity doesn't capture *all* of what seems to be going on in
                                      the NT texts when the resurrection is being discussed. Among those
                                      who discuss the cross/resurrection (so I am excluding Q and GTh,
                                      because they didn't mention the cross, and to try and figure out how
                                      they saw it theologically would be blind speculation) there is an
                                      intentionality and a "positive" religious content. It is not
                                      something to be explained away, but rather part and parcel of its
                                      very kergma. I wonder how soon after Jesus' death it achieved this
                                      status? A standard reason given why the crucifixion ought to be
                                      considered historical is that it was such a scandal that early xns
                                      would never have created it. While it does seem very unlikely that it
                                      would have been created - the "scandal of the cross" seems to
                                      paradoxically be also included within the essential kergma itself at
                                      a very early time (if Paul is any indication). The cross it seems had
                                      a religious significance very shortly after the event had occurred.
                                      Treatments that consider only the sociological factors (as important
                                      and necessary as they are) might miss the religious factors.
                                      Resurrection faith, I think, might be understood from this context.

                                      I think the open tomb narratives were created later to articulate the
                                      religious experiences of the early xns. Although it may be an odd way
                                      to do "history", the fact the modern xns claim that these narratives
                                      still mediate this experience seems to suggest that the religious
                                      factor (*as well as* sociological factors) are significant elements
                                      in understanding these passages.

                                      Going back to the notion of group identity and "in" status. My
                                      reading of GMark suggests that Mark deconstructs the categories of in
                                      and out altogether. In ch 4 Jesus pulls his chosen ones aside (the
                                      "in" group) and explains the secrets of the kingdom. These "in"
                                      people in the context of Mark's story prove to not be on the inside
                                      at all but rather hapless outsiders. Losers. The ones in his gospel
                                      that seem to really "get it" are the (usually nameless) outsiders.
                                      Women often. These are people in Mark's gospel with "bit parts".
                                      These prove to be the real insiders.
                                      --
                                      Steve Black
                                      Vancouver School of Theology
                                      Vancouver, BC
                                    • bjtraff
                                      ... This statement simply ignores the evidence that I and Jack have already presented that this was most definitely *not* what happened to people cruficied at
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
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                                        Michael Turton wrote:

                                        > Crossan is exactly right. Jesus' body rotted on the cross like that
                                        > of most people executed by the Romans.

                                        This statement simply ignores the evidence that I and Jack have
                                        already presented that this was most definitely *not* what happened
                                        to people cruficied at or around the time of Jesus. The rules for
                                        the Jews, and especially Palestinian Jews were different, and that
                                        difference came from decrees handed down by both Julius and Augustus
                                        Caesar. Until someone establishes *with evidence* (as opposed to
                                        conjecture) that the norm in peacetime was to let people rot on a
                                        cross outside Jerusalem (including overnight), the working assumption
                                        of the historian should remain that the examples of Jesus as given in
                                        the Gospel accounts *and* Paul that he was buried. This is supported
                                        by the lone piece of archaeological evidence available to us from the
                                        burial site of Yehohanan ben hgqul, who was crucified and most
                                        certainly buried, the report from Josephus that this was the norm for
                                        Jews (found in _Jewish Wars_), and the complaint of Philo against
                                        Flaccus when Flaccus *did* violate this practice on the occassion of
                                        the emperor's birthday.

                                        I must say, I am very dissappointed that against the evidence offered
                                        by me, Jack, and a number of others on this list, in support of the
                                        probable burial of Jesus, I have yet to see a single sceptic offer
                                        anything beyond assertions based on Roman practices during wartime
                                        (and specifically during the brutal suppression of the 66-74 CE
                                        Jewish rebellion). Obviously one may hold to any belief one so
                                        chooses, but when this is done against the evidence, and without
                                        supports of its own, the assertions border on polemics rather than
                                        sound historical methodology.

                                        Again I will ask, what evidence do we have that there was widespread
                                        use of crucifixion from 7 CE to 66 CE in Palestine, especially in
                                        Jerusalem? From that evidence, how much additional evidence do we
                                        have in support Crossan's assertion that the norm was to let corps'
                                        rot on the cross, even against Jewish religious laws, customs and
                                        norms? In fact, what evidence is there that the Romans flagrantly
                                        and regularly violated Jewish religious laws on *any matter* during
                                        this period of peacetime? The Sanhedrin was set up deliberately, and
                                        used by the Romans. When the mad Caligula decided to erect his statue
                                        in the Temple, it was the ROMAN generals on the spot who appealed to
                                        him not to do this thing, and they prevailed. When, earlier, Pilate
                                        had erected pagan shields within Jerusalem, it was the outrage of the
                                        local Jews that forced his hand, and caused him to remove them.
                                        Given the weight of all of this evidence, on what basis should we
                                        think that it was the custom of the Romans to then ignore the
                                        Sanhedrin, and Jewish sensibilities on a regular basis, especially
                                        without cause or provocation?

                                        If the evidence is out there, then I have yet to see it. I do not
                                        think that it is too much to ask for this evidence to be produced.

                                        Brian Trafford
                                        Calgary, AB, Canada
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