181. Jesus And The Historians. Part three
We were discussing the five arguments which Aslan furnished to support the notion that Jesus thought that the aims of his revolution could not be achieved without violence. Please read blogs 179-180 first.
- Kingdom of God ( heaven ) did not necessarily mean that it had to be established on earth, in Palestine, in near future. As a matter of fact, nowhere did Jesus specify the geographical nature or the time of this kingdom. Look at these statements:
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  [a] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  [b] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, (Mark 9:43-47)
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”( Mark 10:23-25)
Any impartial person, after reading these passages, will conclude that Jesus is referring to heavens, because he is contrasting it with hell: those who enter life, after stumble, with one foot, one hand, one eye; go in kingdom of God; two feet, two hands, two eyes; are thrown into hell. Rich people, in general, usually have a better life, in this world, than the poor, because their money can buy all the comforts which poor lack, then, if kingdom of God refers to this world then why Jesus said that it was impossible for rich to enter it.
I chose passages from Mark, because that is the earliest gospel, there are similar passages in other gospels. For example, “ …..that many Gentiles will come all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….” (Mathew 8:11; Luke 13:28-30)). These prophets had died long time ago!
The author has a different take in this matter. He thinks that ‘kingdom of God’ and a ‘call to revolution’ are simply interchangeable terms. He further adds that Palestine was under Roman occupation. There was no other way to freedom except use of force.( page 120). Jesus agreed ( according to Aslan ) with the zealots that a change of whole system of government was needed, which included political. ( page 121)
There are passages in gospels which state that the kingdom of God is near, which can be interpreted as pointing to a violent rebellion, throwing the Romans out ( as happened few decades later), and establishing a new society based on new principles. Maybe, Jesus understood that his noble death ( which he predicted was going to happen ) and resurrection will result in a moral revolution in human beings. Persons like Peter, Paul, Stephens, and James (brother of Jesus) did achieve Kingdom of God in this world.
- The author reconciles Jesus’ message of love and peace, to use of force against the Romans, by the argument, that his commands to ‘ love your enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek ‘ did not apply to treatment of foreigners and outsiders but was meant only within the Jewish community. This is a preposterous argument and not worthy of discussion. Laws of God are the same for everybody.
- Author states that Jesus was crucified for the crime of sedition. Sedition must be aimed against Roman state, because crucifixion was reserved for treason, sedition, rebellion and banditry. Therefore, author argues, that Jesus was promoting sedition. His point of view is probably correct. Jesus was a revolutionary, though a peaceful one, but Roman and Temple authorities considered him a threat. That does not make him a violent revolutionary but he might have been perceived as such. To make his point valid, author had to argue that the other two bandits crucified along with Jesus had to be resistance fighters too. There is no evidence to support it.
- Aslan contends that Jesus was calling for revolution with the use of force, because he was primarily a Jew, and Jews were rising up against Roman rule. Jesus could not have been unaffected. Palestine was seething with rebellion in the 1st century, which finally resulted in driving the Romans out in 66 A.D, and have a Jewish rule for four years. There were revolts near about Jesus’ time; Judas the Galilean, Fourth sect; etc.This is an indirect deduction without any evidence. Revolutionary Jesus is not mentioned in any of the four gospels, letters of Paul, and by Josephus or Tacitus.To be continued