Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Jesus' last supper and time in the Garden of Gethsemane were really the beginning of Friday by Jewish reckoning.  Now Judas comes with a group to grab him in the Garden and identifies him. I cannot think of any reason to invent this sequence of events, either intentionally or in the whims and fortunes of oral tradition.  The story permeates the tradition.

We find more diversity in relation to what happens in the night.  Many scholars suggest that the somewhat private meeting between Jesus and Annas in John 18:13, then Caiaphas in 18:24, 28 is more likely than a full Sanhedrin in the middle of the night (e.g. Mark 14:55).  Luke seems to have the Sanhedrin more in the morning (Luke 22:66).  In either case Peter follows and denies Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest, something that does not seem likely to be invented at all.

The appearance before Pilate not only has the unanimous testimony of the tradition, but appears in Josephus, the Jewish historian, as well.  Pilate offers to release to the people Jesus or a violent man named Barabbas.  They choose Barabbas.  Again, hard to imagine why such a story would either be invented or would develop naturally through oral tradition.  An appearance before Herod is only attested in Luke 23:6-12.

Allison has well affirmed that tidbits like a man named Simon from Cyrene carrying the cross, them crucifying Jesus at a place called Golgotha, a man named Joseph from Arimathea burying him--these have no reason to suggest invention of any kind.  Christians also are not likely to have come up out of the blue with the idea that he shouted Psalm 22:1 from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."  In fact, Luke omits this cry even though he is probably copying from Mark.

They crucify him at 9am in Mark 15:25 between two criminals (in John at about noon, 19:14, when people were sacrificing lambs for the evening Passover meal).  The charge appears to be sedition--"The king of the Jews," written above his head (Mark 15:26).  From noon till three, Mark says it is very dark (15:33).  Then he shouts at 3pm and dies.

Joseph of Arimathea then takes the body and buries him in a rock tomb.

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