John E. Remsberg
[HTML and editing by Cliff Walker, 2000]
The Crucifixion of Christ
When did Jesus first foretell his passion?
Synoptics: Not until late in his ministry (Matt. xvi, 21; Mark viii, 31; Luke ix, 21-27).
According to John (ii, 19-22) he referred to it at the beginning of his ministry.
When did he announce his betrayal?
Matthew and Mark: At the Last Supper, while they were eating. "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me" (Matt. xxvi, 20, 21; Mark xiv, 18).
Luke and John: Not until after supper (Luke xxii, 20, 21; John iii, 2-21). John says that after supper he washed his disciples' feet and delivered a discourse to them, after which he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
Did Jesus say who should betray him?
Matthew and John: He did (Matt. xxvi, 25; John xiii, 26).
Mark and Luke: He did not.
How did he disclose his betrayer?
Matthew: By an implied affirmative answer to Judas' question, "Is it I?" "Then Judas which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said" (xxvi, 25).
John: By giving Judas a sop. "Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot."
When did Satan enter into Judas?
Luke: Before the Last Supper (xxii, 3-7).
John: After the Last Supper (xiii, 1-27)
How did Judas betray Jesus?
Matthew and Mark: "Now he that betrayed him, gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master, and kissed him" (Matt. xxvi, 48, 49; Mark xiv, 44, 45).
According to John, Judas did not betray him with a kiss.
What did Jesus say to Judas when he betrayed him?
"Friend, wherefore art thou come?" (Matthew xxvi, 50.)
"Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke xxii, 48.)
What was Judas, and what office did he hold?
John: "He was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein" (xii, 6).
Judas was thus the first Christian treasurer. But why did Jesus, if omniscient, as claimed, select a thief for this office? Was he unable to conduct his ministry without the aid of one?
What did Judas receive for betraying his master?
Matthew: "And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver" (xxvi, 15).
"It is strange that a man who kept the purse, and knew what he would lose by the death of his chief, should abandon the profits of his office for so small a sum." -- Renan.
What did he do with the money?
Matthew: "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.... And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed" (xxvii, 3-5).
Peter: "Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity" (Acts i, 18).
The purchase of the potter's field was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Matthew: "That which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued,...and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me" (xxvii. 9, 10).
This was not spoken by Jeremiah, but by Zechariah. "And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord" (xi, 13).
It is evident that the account of the betrayal was inspired, not by a historical fact, but by a desire to "fulfill" a Messianic prophecy. Zechariah did not predict an event, but his words did suggest a fiction. This is the more probable from the fact that Matthew is the only Evangelist who mentions the thirty pieces of silver.
The story of Christ's last visit to Jerusalem and the story of his betrayal exclude each other. According to the Evangelists he was not arrested for any offense he had committed during this visit, but for offenses he had committed prior to this. Yet during this visit he is said to have appeared openly with his disciples, making a triumphal entry into the city, visiting the temple and teaching in public. In the face of this the story that the Jews were obliged to bribe one of his disciples in order to apprehend him is absurd. One of these stories must be false. Regarding them Lord Amberley observes: "The representation of the Gospels, that Jesus went on teaching in public to the very end of his career, and yet that Judas received a bribe for his betrayal, is self-contradictory" (Life of Jesus, p. 214).
To those who believe the accounts of the betrayal of Jesus to be historical, the ecclesiastical historian, Neander, in his Life of Christ, advances a suggestion that is worthy of consideration. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas, it is suggested, was intended as a test of his Messiahship. If Jesus was the Messiah, Judas reasoned, he could save himself; if he was not the Messiah he was an impostor and deserved death.
What became of Judas?
Matthew: He "went and hanged himself" (xxvii, 5).
Peter: "Falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out" (Acts i, 18).
Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, one of the chief Christian authorities of the second century, and who wrote before the books of Matthew and Acts were written, gives the following account of the fate of Judas:
"Judas walked about in the world a great example of impiety; for his body having swollen so that, on an occasion, when a wagon was moving on its way, he could not pass it, he was crushed by the chariot and his bowels gushed out."
The German commentator, Dr. Hase, attempts to reconcile his suicide, as related by Matthew, with his death by accident, as related by Peter, by supposing that he attempted to hang himself, but that the rope broke, causing him to fall with such force as to disembowel himself. This harmonist apparently forgets to note that Peter says he fell "headlong," which makes it necessary to suppose that he hung himself by the feet.
To whom did Peter deliver his speech describing the fate of Judas?
"Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples" (Acts i, 15).
Is it not reasonable to suppose that the alleged information conveyed in his speech was as familiar to the disciples whom he addressed as to himself? Regarding this De Wette aptly says: "In the composition of this speech the author has not considered historical decorum."
What did Peter say in regard to the name of the field?
"And it was known unto all the dwellers of Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood" (Acts i, 19).
Here Peter is represented as interpreting in Greek a Jewish word to his Jewish brethren.
Were there more than one of Jesus' disciples concerned in his betrayal?
John: There were. "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were [of his disciples] that believed not, and who should betray him" (vi, 64).
When the Jewish council met to plan the arrest of Jesus, to what conclusion did they come?
Matthew and Mark: Not to arrest him on the feast day (Matt. xxvi, 3-5; Mark xiv, 1, 2).
Yet this was the very day on which Matthew and Mark declare that he was arrested.
Who arrested him?
Matthew and Mark: "A great multitude ... from the chief priests and elders of the people" (Matt. xxvi, 47; Mark xiv, 43).
Luke: "The chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders" themselves (xxii, 47-52).
Who does John say was sent to arrest him?
A "band of soldiers and officers" (xviii, 3, New Ver.).
This contradicts the Synoptics, who declare that it was a mob of civilians.
What is said regarding the multitude sent out to apprehend him?
Synoptics: They were armed "with swords and staves" (Matt. xxvi, 47; Mark xiv, 43; Luke xxii, 52).
Were the disciples armed?
All: They were, or one of them at least (Matt. xxvi, 51; Mark xiv, 47; Luke xxii, 38, 50; John xviii, 10).
This is incredible, for Jews were never allowed to carry arms on a holy day.
How did they go out to capture him?
John: "With lanterns and torches" (xviii, 3).
His enemies are represented as believing that his arrest could be secured only by strategy and stealth. Under these circumstances is it reasonable to suppose that the chief priests would send out a torchlight procession to apprehend him? Besides, as it was at the full of the moon, what need had they of lanterns and torches? Again, lanterns were unknown in Palestine.
When the band sent to capture him first came up to him what did they do?
Matthew and Mark: "They laid hands on him and took him" (Matt. xxvi, 47-50; Mark xiv, 43-46).
John: "They went backward and fell to the ground" (xviii, 3-6).
What did Peter do when Jesus was arrested?
John: "Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear" (xviii, 10).
Yet no efforts were made to arrest and punish Peter, notwithstanding he was recognized and pointed out by the kinsman of the wounded man. It may be urged that Jesus had healed the servant's ear. This, even if true, would not have removed the guilt of the militant disciple. Had Peter really committed the deed, it is not probable that he would have visited the house of the high priest and remained in the presence of his enemies.
When was Jesus bound?
John: When he was arrested (xviii, 12).
Matthew and Mark: Not until after his trial before the Sanhedrim when he was taken to Pilate (Matt. xxvii, 2; Mark xv, 1).
According to Luke he was not bound.
What did they do with Jesus when he was taken?
Matthew: "Led him away to Caiaphas" (xxvi, 57).
John: "Led him away to Annas first" (xviii, 13).
Did he have an examination before his trial?
John: He did (xviii, 13-23).
Our laws provide for what is known as a preliminary examination before a magistrate. This was forbidden by the Jewish law, and his alleged examination before a priest could not have taken place.
Before whom did his preliminary examination take place?
John: Before Annas (xviii, 13-23).
The Synoptics state that he was examined and tried before Caiaphas.
Repeat John xviii, 24.
"Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest" (Old Ver.).
"Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest" (New Ver.).
This verse follows the account of Jesus' preliminary examination and shows clearly that this examination took place before Annas, and that he was not sent to Caiaphas until its conclusion. The King James translators, in order to hide the discrepancy, prefixed the word "now" and changed the tense of the verb, substituting "had sent" for "sent," so that it might appear that Annas had sent him to Caiaphas before the examination commenced.
Concerning this corruption of the text, Scott says: "There is no conjunction 'now,' and an aorist cannot mark a definite time. If a hiatus is suspected, it may be indicated by an asterisk; but to insert words and alter the force of a tense in order to get over a grave historical difficulty is sheer dishonesty" (Life of Jesus, p. 289, note).
Matthew and John state that Caiaphas was high priest at this time. Who does the author of Acts state was high priest?
"And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem" (iv, 6).
Luke (iii, 2), who is declared to be the author of Acts, says that Annas and Caiaphas were both high priests.
Criticizing John's account of the examination before Annas, the author of Supernatural Religion says: "The Synoptics know nothing of the preliminary examination before Annas, and the reason given by the writer of the fourth Gospel why the soldiers first took Jesus to Annas: 'for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas who was first high priest that year,' is inadmissible. The assertion is a clear mistake, and it probably originated in a stranger writing of facts and institutions with which he was not well acquainted, being misled by an error equally committed by the author of the third Gospel, and of the Acts of the Apostles.... Such statements, erroneous in themselves and not understood by the author of the fourth Gospel, may have led to the confusion in the narrative. Annas had previously been high priest, as we know from Josephus, but nothing is more certain than the fact that the title was not continued after the office was resigned; and Ishmael, Eleazar, and Simon, who succeeded Annas and separated his term of office from that of Caiaphas, did not subsequently bear the title. The narrative is a mistake, and such an error could not have been committed by a native of Palestine, and much less by an acquaintance of the high priest" (p. 660).
What is said regarding the tenure of Caiaphas' office?
John: He was "high priest that year" (xi, 49).
John's language implies that the high priest was appointed annually, whereas he held his office for life, or until removed. Caiaphas had been high priest for many years.
What had Caiaphas prophesied concerning Jesus?
John: "He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" (xi, 51, 52).
A high priest did not assume the role of prophet, much less would he have given utterance to the prophecy ascribed to Caiaphas. The Roman procurator might have expressed such a sentiment, for according to Roman law and ethics an individual could be sacrificed for the welfare of the state. The high priest, on the other hand, could not have uttered such a sentiment, because it was abhorrent to the Jewish mind. If all Israel could have been saved, and could have been saved only by the death of one of its innocent members, that member could not have been put to death, because, according to Jewish law, it would have made of every Jew concerned in it a murderer. It was a fundamental principle of the Jewish code that, "No human life must be abandoned on account of any other life."
Did Jesus have a trial before the Sanhedrim?
Synoptics: He had (Matt. xxvi, 57-75; Mark xiv, 53-72; Luke xxii, 54-71).
It was about this time (30 A.D.), that the Sanhedrim ceased to have jurisdiction over capital offenses. After its jurisdiction ceased Jesus could not have been tried before it; and before its jurisdiction ceased he would not have had a subsequent trial before Pilate.
Where was his trial held?
Matthew and Mark: At the palace of the high priest.
No trial was ever held at the residence of the high priest. All meetings of the Sanhedrim were held in the hall adjoining the temple. A trial at any other place would have been illegal.
What was the charge preferred against him?
Jesus, it was charged, had declared himself to be the son of God. This, if true, would not have constituted blasphemy. It was no offense against the law for a man to claim that he was the son of God. All men, and especially all good men, were recognized as the sons of God. Referring to Christ's claim, a Jewish writer says: "No law, no precedent, and no fictitious case in the Bible or the rabbinical literature, can be cited to make of this expression a case of blasphemy." And even if he had been proven guilty of blasphemy, he could not have been put to death, for blasphemy, at this time, had ceased to be a capital offense. And is it reasonable to suppose that the Romans would have condemned a man to death for an offense against a religion in which they did not themselves believe, but which they regarded as one of the vilest of superstitions? It may be urged that in his trial before Pilate the charge was changed to sedition. This charge was not sustained.
What is said regarding witnesses?
Matthew and Mark: "Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witnesses against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none; yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none" (Matt. xxvi, 59, 60; Mark xiv, 55, 56).
When every step thus far taken by the council had been illegal, why should it have been so particular in regard to the witnesses? The fact is the Evangelists were ignorant of Jewish laws. They believed that while the prosecution of Jesus was unjust it was yet conducted according to the established rules of Jewish courts. Referring to Mark, Dr. Wise says: "In his ignorance of Jewish law, he imagined the trial which he described was lawful among the Jews. He proves this, in the first place, by the very statement that witnesses were sought and produced. A court convoked and acting in rebellion to law and custom can be considered only a band of rebels. What use have such men of witnesses? Being lawless from the beginning, no legal restraint makes the presence of witnesses necessary.... He certainly thought of an honest, lawful trial, in the legal form; an honest and legal examination of witnesses, a fair consideration of the testimony, and after mature reflection the rejection thereof on account of insufficiency" (Martyrdom of Jesus, pp. 69, 70).
What did the so called false witnesses that appeared against him testify that he had said?
"I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days" (Matthew xxvi, 61).
"I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark xiv, 58).
What had Jesus said?
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up" (John ii, 19).
Passing over the discrepancies of Matthew and Mark, if they have given the substance of these witnesses' testimony, then they were not false, but truthful witnesses; for Jesus, it is seen, had given utterance to such a declaration. If he referred to the temple of his body, as John affirms, and the Jews misunderstood him, the fault was his, not theirs.
Josephus gives an account of a so called prophet who, a few years later, boasted of his supernatural powers in much the same manner that Jesus is said to have done:
"There came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem, one that said that he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence, how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down" (Antiquities, Book xx, chap. viii, sec. 6).
Was he questioned by the Sanhedrim?
Synoptics: He was. They tried to convict him by his own testimony (Matt. xxvi, 62 64; Mark xiv, 60-63; Luke xxii, 66-71).
A Jewish court did not question a prisoner. A prisoner could not even plead guilty.
To the priest's question, "Art thou the Christ?" what answer did he give?
Mark: "Jesus said, I am" (xiv, 61, 62).
Luke: "He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe" (xxii, 67).
When did his trial before the Sanhedrim take place?
Matthew and Mark: During the night. After his arrest, which probably occurred not later than midnight, they at once "led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where ... the chief priests, and elders, and all the council [Sanhedrim]" had assembled, when his trial immediately began (Matt. xxvi, 57-68; Mark xiv, 58-65).
Luke: Not until the next morning. During the night he was held in custody at the house of the high priest. "As soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into the council" (xxii, 66).
This, according to Luke, was his first and only appearance before the Sanhedrim. Matthew and Mark, in addition to the night trial mentioned by them, also mention an adjourned session in the morning corresponding to the meeting of Luke.
Could this trial have been held in the night as stated by Matthew and Mark?
It could not. The Jewish law prohibited the opening of a trial at night. The Sanhedrim could not hold a session before 6 am. or after 3 p.m. Luke was seemingly acquainted with this law; Matthew and Mark were not.
During what religious festivities was his trial held?
Synoptics: During the feast of the Passover.
It could not have been held during the Passover, for no trials were held by the Jews during this feast.
On what day of the week was it held?
Synoptics: On Friday, the day preceding the Sabbath.
No trial for a capital offense was ever allowed to begin on the day preceding the Sabbath.
How long did this trial last?
All: But a few hours.
The Jewish law required at least two days for a capital trial -- one for prosecution, and one for the defense.
Did he have a defender or counselor in the Sanhedrim?
Synoptics: He did not.
According to the Synoptics he had no counsel, and the Sanhedrim were unanimous in their condemnation of him. This was contrary to Jewish law. The Sanhedrim might be unanimous in their belief that he was guilty, but it was the duty of at least one of them to defend him. This was the law: "If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e., all pronounce him guilty, having no defender in the court, the verdict of guilty was invalid and the sentence of death could not be executed" (Maimonides).
Dr. Geikie admits that the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrim, as related in the Gospels, was in nearly every particular contrary to Jewish law. He says:
"The accused was in all cases to be held innocent, till proved guilty. It was an axiom, that 'the Sanhedrim was to save, not to destroy life.' No one could be tried and condemned in his absence, and when a person accused was brought before the court, it was the duty of the president, at the outset, to admonish the witnesses to remember the value of human life, and to take care that they forgot nothing that would tell in the prisoner's favor. Nor was he left undefended; a Baal-Rib, or counsel, was appointed, to see that all possible was done for his acquittal. Whatever evidence tended to aid him was to be freely admitted, and no member of the court who had once spoken in favor of acquittal could afterwards vote for condemnation. The votes of the youngest of the judges were taken first, that they might not be influenced by their seniors. In capital charges, it required a majority of at least two to condemn, and while the verdict of acquittal could be given at once, that of guilty could only be pronounced the next day. Hence, capital trials could not begin on the day preceding a Sabbath, or public feast. No criminal trial could be carried through in the night; the judges who condemned any one to death had to fast all the day before, and no one could be executed on the same day on which the sentence was pronounced." (Life of Christ, Vol. II, p. 487.)
Had Jesus been tried, convicted and executed by the Jews would he have been crucified?
He would not. Crucifixion was a mode of punishment never employed by the Jews. Had the Jews executed him he would have been stoned.
It is impliedly stated in the Synoptics, and expressly stated in John, that the Sanhedrim's jurisdiction over capital crimes had ceased. "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (xviii, 31). The Sanhedrim's authority ceased in 30 A.D., and it is generally claimed by Christians that the crucifixion occurred from one to five years after this time.
What does Peter say in regard to the mode of punishment employed in his execution?
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree" (Acts v, 30).
"And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom ye slew and hanged on a tree" (x, 39).
Concerning this, Mrs. Evans says: "With regard to his death, it was said that the Jews slew him and hanged him on a tree; and again that he was taken down from the tree; expressions which do not imply crucifixion, but rather the legal execution for such crimes as the one alleged, that is, stoning to death and the exposure of the dead body upon a stake, or a tree" (Christ Myth, p. 79).
How was he treated by the Sanhedrim?
Matthew and Mark: "They spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (Matt. xxvi, 67; Mark xiv, 65).
Every Jew, and every other person acquainted with the Jewish history of that age, knows that this is false. The Sanhedrim was composed of the wisest and the best men of that race. Superstitious, bigoted and fanatical some of them doubtless were, but in that august court law and dignity and decorum reigned.
These accounts of the trial of Christ before the Sanhedrim afford overwhelming proof that they were not written by apostles nor by residents of Palestine. They were written by Gentile Christians, or by Jewish converts living in foreign lands, and presumably the former, for even foreign Jews must have possessed a better knowledge of Jewish laws and customs than the Evangelists display.
During the trial Peter denied his master. What had Jesus predicted concerning his denial?
Matthew, Luke and John: "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice" (Matt. xxvi, 34; Luke xxii, 34; John xiii, 38).
Mark: "And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice" (xiv, 30).
Did Peter deny him three times before the cock crew?
Matthew, Luke and John: He did (Matt. xxvi, 69-75; Luke xxii, 54-62; John xviii, 15-27).
Mark: He did not; he had denied him but once when the cock crew (xiv, 66-68).
Where were they when Jesus foretold Peter's denial?
Matthew and Mark: At the Mount of Olives (Matt. xxvi, 30-35; Mark xiv, 26-30).
Luke: In Jerusalem, at supper, before they went out to the Mount of Olives (xxii, 7-39).
What did Peter do when he entered the palace?
Luke: "Peter sat down among them" (xxii, 55).
John: "Peter stood with them" (xviii, 18).
When was he first accused of being the friend of Jesus?
John: As he entered the room (xviii, 16, 17).
Mark and Luke: As he sat by the fire (Mark xiv, 66, 67; Luke xxii, 54-57).
When was he accused the second time?
John: In the house as he "stood and warmed himself" (xviii, 25).
Matthew: "When he was gone out into the porch" (xxvi, 71).
By whom was he accused the second time?
Matthew and Mark: By a "maid" (Matt. xxvi, 71; Mark xiv, 69).
Luke: By a "man" (xxii, 59, 60).
Who accused him the third time?
Matthew and Mark: "They that stood by" (Matt. xxvi, 73; Mark xiv, 70).
John: "One of the servants of the high priest" (xviii, 26).
Was Jesus present when Peter denied him?
Matthew and Mark: He was not.
Luke: He was. "The Lord turned and looked upon Peter" (xxii, 60, 61).
Where was Jesus next sent for trial?
Luke: To Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, who was attending the Passover at Jerusalem (xxiii, 6-11).
In the matter of trials the Evangelists, as in everything else, have overdone things. Notwithstanding no trial was ever held during the Passover they give him four trials in one day, and not finding courts enough in Judea for the purpose, they import one from Galilee.
There is nothing more improbable than this alleged examination of Jesus by Herod. Imagine the Governor General of Canada sitting in judgment on a criminal at Washington, because the criminal is a Canadian, or an Ohio court holding a session in New York because the prisoner arraigned once lived in Ohio. The offenses with which Jesus was charged were committed, not in Herod's province, Galilee, but in Pilate's province, Judea.
It is strange that John, who pretends to relate every important event connected with the trial of Jesus, should omit his trial before Herod. Concerning this Strauss says: "The conjecture, that it may probably have appeared to him [John] too unimportant, loses all foundation when it is considered that John does not scorn to mention the leading away to Annas, which nevertheless was equally indecisive; and in general, the narrative of these events in John is, as Schleiermacher himself confesses, so consecutive that it nowhere presents a break in which such an episode could be inserted. Hence even Schleiermacher at last takes refuge in the conjecture that possibly the sending to Herod may have escaped the notice of John, because it happened on an opposite side to that on which the disciple stood, through a back door, and that it came to the knowledge of Luke because his informant had an acquaintance in the household of Herod, as John had in that of Annas; the former conjecture, however, is figuratively as well as literally nothing more than a back door, the latter, a fiction which is but the effort of despair" (Leben Jesu, pp. 764, 765).
What was the result of Pilate's sending Jesus to Herod?
Luke: "And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together, for before they were at enmity between themselves" (xxiii, 12).
Pilate and Herod did not become friends. To the day of Pilate's recall they were enemies. Herod was continually plotting and striving to unite with his tetrarchy the province of Judea which belonged to his father's kingdom, and which his father had promised to give him.
Did Jesus's trial before Pilate take place in the presence of his accusers?
Luke: It did (xviii, 1-4, 13, 14).
John: It did not (xviii, 28).
Did Pilate go out of the judgment hall to consult with those who were prosecuting Jesus?
Luke: He did not (xxiii, 1-25).
John: He did. "Pilate then went out unto them [the Jews], and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.... Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?" (xxiii, 29, 30, 33, 34.)
The prosecution and the defense are both declared to have returned insolent answers to the questions of Pilate. The Jewish priests were too wise for this, and Christians will be loath to admit that their Savior was so indiscreet and so impolite as to indulge in such insolence.
What was the result of his trial before Pilate?
All: Pilate declared him innocent and sentenced him to death.
"And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people; and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him.... And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.... He delivered Jesus to their will" (Luke xxiii, 13, 14, 24, 25).
"Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him" (John xix, 6).
It is impossible to believe that the highest court of a country would pronounce a prisoner innocent and then condemn him to death. Judicial murders are sometimes committed, but the murderers do not confess their guilt.
It is declared that Pilate desired to release Jesus but could not. Who ruled Judea, Pilate or the Sanhedrim? According to the Evangelists, the Romans ruled Judea, while the Jews ruled the Romans.
Between the Pilate of the New Testament and the Pilate of history there is nothing in common. The Pilate of the New Testament is subservient to the Jews, acceding to their every wish, even to murdering an innocent prisoner. The Pilate of history is noted for his hatred of the Jews and his cruelties to them. It was these which provoked his recall.
When Pilate could not prevail upon the Jews to allow him to release Jesus, what did he do?
Matthew: "He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person" (xxvii, 24).
Matthew does not appear to realize the absurdity of supposing that a Roman official would adopt a custom peculiar to a people whom he held in contempt.
"And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands ... and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood" (Deuteronomy xx, 6, 7).
What indignities were heaped upon Jesus during his trial before Pilate?
John: "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!" (xix, 1-5.)
These indignities Jesus is said to have suffered, not at the hands of a Jewish mob, but at the hands of a Roman court, from which the Jews had absented themselves and whose proceedings they could not witness nor directly influence. Every lawyer knows that for more than two thousand years the Roman court has been the world's model for dignity and fairness. That an innocent and defenseless prisoner was subjected to these insults and brutalities in a Roman court, presided over by a Roman governor, none but a slave of superstition can believe.
When was he scourged?
Matthew and Mark: Before he was executed. "And when he [Pilate] had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified" (Matt. xxvii, 26; Mark xv, 15).
John: Before the termination of his trial (xix, 1-16).
Scourging was frequently inflicted by the Romans before execution, but never before the prisoner was convicted and sentenced. The Bible Dictionary concedes the illegal and unusual character of the scourging mentioned by John. "In our Lord's case, however, this infliction seems neither to have been the legal scourging after sentence nor yet the examination by torture" (Acts xxii, 24).
What custom is said to have been observed at the Passover?
All: The release of a prisoner by the Roman governor (Matt. xxvii, 15; Mark xv, 6; Luke xxiii, 17; John xviii, 39).
"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would."
There is no historical authority whatever for this alleged custom. It was a custom that the Roman government in Judea could not with safety adopt. The Jews were a subject people, waiting and hoping for an opportunity to throw off the Roman yoke. To release to them "whomsoever they desired" (Mark xv, 6) might be to release a political prisoner whose liberty would endanger the government itself. This story was probably suggested by a custom of the Roman emperors who released a prisoner at their birthday festivals.
They demanded and obtained the release of Barabbas. Who was Barabbas?
John: A robber. "Now Barabbas was a robber" (xviii, 40).
Mark and Luke: A murderer. "Barabbas (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison)" (Luke xxiii, 18, 19; Mark xv, 7).
By whom was Jesus clad in mockery?
Matthew, Mark and John: By Pilate's soldiers (Matt. xxvii, 27, 28; Mark xv, 16, 17; John xix, 1, 2).
Luke: By Herod and his soldiers. "And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe" (xxiii, 11).
What was the color of the robe they put on him?
Matthew: "They stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe" (xxvii, 28).
Mark and John: "They put on him a purple robe" (John xix, 2; Mark xv, 17).
When did this occur?
John: During his trial (xix, 1, 2, 12-16).
Matthew and Mark: After Pilate had delivered him to be crucified (Matt. xxvii, 26-28; Mark xv, 15-17).
Describe the mocking of Jesus.
Matthew: "Then released he Barabbas unto them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they bowed the knee before him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" (xxvii, 26-29.)
The original of this account of the mocking of Jesus is to be found in Philo's "Adversus Flaccum," written more than one hundred years before the Gospels made their appearance. Herod Agrippa was on his way from Rome to Palestine to assume the government of that country. When he stopped at Alexandria his enemies, to annoy him, instituted a mock coronation, which Philo relates as follows:
"There was a certain poor wretch named Carabbas, who spent all his days and nights in the roads, the sport of idle children and wanton youths; and the multitude, having driven him as far as the public gymnasium, and having set him up there on high, that he might be seen of everybody, flattening out a papyrus leaf, put it on his head instead of a crown, and clothed the rest of his body with a common mat in place of a robe, and in lieu of a sceptre thrust into his hand a reed, which they found lying by the wayside. And when he had received all the insignia of royalty, and had been dressed and adorned like a king, young men bearing sticks on their shoulders stood on each side of him in imitation of guards, while others came up, some as if to salute him, and others pretending to plead their causes before him" (Philo's Works, Vol. IV, pp. 68, 69).
Who smote Jesus after his trial?
Mark: "The servants did strike him with the palms of their hands" (xiv, 65).
John: "One of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand" (xviii, 22).
The stories of these mockings, revilings, and brutal assaults cannot be accepted as historical. They are self-evidently false. Were they alleged to have been committed by an irresponsible Jewish or Roman mob they might be credited; but when they are declared to have been committed by, or while in the custody of the highest Jewish and Roman officials they must be rejected.
To whom did Pilate deliver him to be crucified?
Matthew and Mark: To the Roman soldiers. "And when he had scourged Jesus he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus.... And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,...they crucified him" (Matt. xxvii, 26-35; Mark xv, 15-24).
John: He delivered him to the Jews. "And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of the skulls, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha; where they crucified him" (xix, 14-18).
Matthew and Mark plainly state that Jesus was delivered to the Roman soldiers; John just as plainly states that he was delivered to the Jews. Matthew and Mark declare that he was crucified by the soldiers; John declares that he was crucified by the Jews. Were it not that John elsewhere (xix, 23) contradicts himself and states that the soldiers crucified him, the conclusion would be, after reading John, that he was crucified by the Jews.
Peter declares that the Jews executed him. Addressing the Sanhedrim, he says: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree" (Acts v, 30).
Who was compelled to carry the cross?
Synoptics: "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross" (Matt. xxvii, 32; Mark xv, 21; Luke xxiii, 26).
John: The cross was borne by Jesus himself (xix, 17).
Where was Simon when they compelled him to carry the cross?
Mark: "Coming out of the country" (xv, 21).
The correct reading of this is, "coming from the field," i.e., "coming from his work." This is improbable as they did not work on the Passover.
The Synoptics agree in stating that Simon was compelled to carry the cross. Is this probable?
It is not. In executions of this kind the criminal was always required to carry it himself as a mark of disgrace.
It is inferred from the Synoptics that the cross was too heavy for Jesus to bear, and Christian writings and paintings represent him bending with fatigue beneath the burden of the entire cross. What was the burden he was required to carry?
Simply the patibulum, or cross piece, which was not heavy. The upright portion of the cross was a permanent fixture.
On his way to execution he made a speech to the women of Jerusalem who bewailed his fate. Alluding, as is alleged, to the coming destruction of Jerusalem, what did he declare they would say?
"To the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us" (Luke xxiii, 30).
Luke attempts to put into the mouth of Jesus a quotation from Hosea, but his memory was defective. What the prophet said was as follows:
"To the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us" (Hosea x, 8).
Renan pronounces this speech spurious. He says: "The speech to the women of Jerusalem could scarcely have been conceived except after the siege of the year 70."
Where was he crucified?
Matthew and Mark: At "a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull" (Matt. xxvii, 33; Mark xv, 22).
Luke: At Calvary (xxiii, 33).
Calvary, like Golgotha, means a place of skulls in the vicinity of Jerusalem. The explanation given by Christian commentators is that "it was a spot where executions ordinarily took place, and therefore abounded in skulls." Fleetwood says it "was called Golgotha, or Place of Skulls, from the criminals' bones which lay scattered there" (Life of Christ, p. 416). Where Jewish customs prevailed -- and it is admitted that they did prevail in Jerusalem and Judea at this time, and had for hundreds of years -- a human skull or bone was not allowed to be exposed for even a moment.
What was the inscription on the cross?
Mark: "The King of the Jews" (xv, 26).
Luke: "This is the King of the Jews" (xxiii, 38).
Matthew: "This is Jesus the King of the Jews" (xxvii, 37).
John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (xix, 19).
There was placed on the cross a certain inscription. According to Luke and John it appeared in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Four divinely inspired historians attempt to report in Greek the exact words of this inscription. Yet no two of their reports agree.
Did the name of Jesus appear on the cross?
Matthew and John: It did.
Mark and Luke: It did not.
Did the word "Nazareth" appear in the inscription?
John: It did.
Synoptics: It did not.
What did they offer him to drink before crucifying him?
Matthew: "Vinegar mingled with gall" (xxvii, 34).
Mark: "Wine mingled with myrrh" (xv, 23).
Luke: "Vinegar" alone (xxiii, 36).
The draughts mentioned by Matthew and Mark refer to a Jewish mixture intended to produce stupefaction and lessen pain. Had the Romans crucified him it is not probable that they would have observed this Jewish custom.
How was he fastened on the cross?
Luke and John: His hands and feet were nailed to it (Luke xxiv, 39; John xx, 25, 27).
The Evangelists do not say that he was nailed to the cross; but it has been inferred from the texts mentioned in Luke and John that he was. In crucifixion the victim was usually bound to the cross. Nails were sometimes driven through the hands, but never through the feet. The allusions to the supposed wounds on his hands and feet were evidently inserted in the accounts for the purpose of establishing his identity after the resurrection. Great prominence has been given them by Christians in order to make Christ's crucifixion appear especially cruel and create sympathy for him.
At what hour of the day was he crucified?
Mark: "It was the third hour [nine o'clock in the morning]" (xv, 25).
Luke: "It was about the sixth hour [noon]" (xxiii, 44).
John: At the sixth hour he had not been sentenced and delivered to the executioners; hence he was not crucified until the afternoon (xix, 14-16).
Dr. Geikie admits that three hours may have elapsed between the termination of his trial and his crucifixion. Hence, according to John, the crucifixion may have occurred as late as three o'clock in the afternoon.
It has been attempted to explain the discrepancy between Mark and John by supposing that John used a different method of reckoning time. Concerning this, Prof. Sanday, one of England's highest orthodox authorities, says: "The writer of this was at one time inclined to look with favor on these attempts. If the premise could be proved, the data would work out satisfactorily.... But it must definitely be said that the major premise cannot be proved, and that the attempt to reconcile the two statements on this basis breaks down."
How did the soldiers divide the garments?
Matthew: "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots" (xxvii, 35).
John: "Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots" (xix, 23, 24).
According to Matthew they cast lots for all the garments; according to John they cast lots for the coat alone. John here makes the same error in regard to the garments that Matthew does in regard to the ass on which Jesus made his triumphal entry. In the verse cited from Psalms garments and vesture are the same thing -- the clothing of the writer. One of the chief characteristics of Hebrew poetry, or much of it at least, is that each successive thought is stated twice, but in different words.
Who were crucified with Jesus?
Mark and Matthew: "And with him they crucify two thieves" (Mark xv, 27; Matt. xxvii, 38).
Thieves were not crucified. Crucifixion, or death in any form, for theft was contrary to both Jewish and Roman law. Theft was not a capital offense.
His crucifixion between two thieves fulfilled what prophecy?
Mark: "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And he shall be numbered with the transgressors" (xv, 28).
"The same might be said of the thieves." -- Paine.
This passage is not to be found in the earlier manuscripts of Mark, and Westcott declares it to be an interpolation.
How long did Jesus survive after being placed upon the cross?
Luke: About three hours (xxiii, 44).
A Jamaica Negro slave, crucified in 1760, lived two hundred and ten hours.
Kitto says: "We may consider thirty-six hours to be the earliest period at which crucifixion would occasion death in a healthy adult" (Biblical Cyclopedia, Art. "Crucifixion").
What were his last words?
Matthew: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (xxvii, 46).
Mark: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (xv, 34.)
Luke: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (xxiii, 46).
John: "It is finished" (xix, 30).
With the Four Gospels before them, Christians do not know what his last words were. The two most popular English Lives of Christ are those of Dr. Farrar and Dr. Geikie. These writers were contemporaries and friends, and both were adherents of the same church. Both, with these Gospels for their authorities, attempt to portray the closing scene. I quote from each:
Dr. Farrar: "And now the end was come. Once more, in the words of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, but adding to them that title of trustful love which, through Him, is permitted to the use of all mankind, 'Father' he said, 'into Thy hands I commend my spirit.' Then with one more great effort he uttered the last cry -- the one victorious word, 'IT IS FINISHED.'"
Dr. Geikie: "A moment more, and all was over. The cloud had passed as suddenly as it rose. Far and wide, over the vanquished throngs of his enemies, with a loud voice, as if uttering his shout of eternal victory before entering into his glory, he cried, 'It is finished!' Then, more gently, came the words, 'FATHER, INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT.'"
In what language were his last words uttered?
Matthew: In Hebrew.
Mark: In Aramaic and Hebrew.
The language spoken by Jesus and by the people of Palestine at this time was the Aramaic. Mark attempts to give the words of Jesus in this language. But while the first two words are Aramaic, the last two are Hebrew. The words Mark attempts to give are "Elohi, Elohi, metul mah shabaktani?" This Gospel was written by one ignorant of the language of Palestine.
Matthew interprets the Hebrew words quoted by him to mean, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Is this correct?
It is not. The words mean, "My God, my God, why hast thou sacrificed me?"
The Gospel of Matthew, it is claimed, originally appeared in Hebrew. But this shows that the author of Matthew did not understand the Hebrew language.
What are the words given by Matthew and Mark?
The first words of the 22d Psalm. In the words of Farrar, "He borrowed from David's utter agony the expression of his own."
Is it probable that a man in the agonies of a terrible death would devote his expiring breath to a recital of Hebrew poetry? When even the dying words of this Christ are borrowed, is it not evident that the whole story of his life is fabulous?
The accounts of the crucifixion given by the Evangelists are to a large extent reproductions of the 22d Psalm, even to the language itself, the poetical allusions of the psalmist being transformed into alleged historical facts. The devout Christian who is familiar with this Passion Psalm sees in the Evangelists' account of the crucifixion a wonderful fulfillment of prophecy. But the critic sees merely the borrowed embellishments of a legend.
What expression did his words, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," provoke?
Matthew: "Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias" (xxvii, 47).
This is additional proof of Matthew's ignorance of Hebrew. He supposes a similarity of sound between the two words, whereas they were utterly unlike in pronunciation. Eli was pronounced Ali (long a), while Elias was pronounced Eleeyahu. But even had they been so much alike in sound that one might have been mistaken for the other, as Matthew supposes, the alleged incident is disproved by the fact that the Jews were not allowed to attend the execution, while to the Romans the words were meaningless.
Who was it bade them see whether Elias would come to his rescue?
Mark: The one who gave him the sponge filled with vinegar. "And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone, let us see whether Elias will come to take him down" (xv, 36).
Matthew: It was not this person, but those who were with him. "And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him" (xxvii, 48, 49)
In regard to these alleged last words of Jesus, Dr, Hooykaas says: "It seems to us far more probable that these words of the Messianic passion-psalm were put into the mouth of Jesus by tradition than that he really uttered them. The sequel, too, throws great suspicion on the report; for the Jews were not allowed to approach the cross, and what did the Roman soldiers know about Elijah? Besides, if the Jews had really heard him cry "Eli!" or "Eloi!" they would hardly have mistaken the words of the twenty-second Psalm for a cry to the precursor of the Messianic kingdom -- a mistake upon which their raillery is made to depend. We must, therefore, put aside these words, as in all probability unhistorical" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 454).
Did the thieves between whom he was crucified both revile him?
Matthew and Mark: They did. "And they that were crucified with him reviled him" (Mark xv, 32; Matt. xxvii, 44).
Luke: They did not; but one reviled him. "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him.... But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" (xxiii, 39, 40.)
If these men were crucified with Jesus, as claimed, neither reviled him. Reason rejects the statement that a dying man, suffering unutterable agony, reviled a fellow sufferer.
What request did the penitent thief make of Jesus?
Luke: "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (xxiii, 42).
Here the dying thief is represented as being familiar with a subject which the disciples themselves did not at this time comprehend.
What did Jesus say to the thief?
"Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke xxiii, 43).
Instead of going to the Christian Heaven above, they went to the Jewish-Pagan Sheol (Hell) below. Did Jesus recant on the cross? Did he renounce the Kingdom of God when God deserted him? Concerning this remarkable passage, Smith's Bible Dictionary says:
"The Rabbis in the time of our Savior taught there was a region of the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth Gehenna was on one side, with its flames and torments; Paradise on the other, the intermediate home of the blessed.... It is significant, indeed, that the word 'paradise' nowhere occurs in the public teaching of our Lord, or in his intercourse with his disciples. Connected as it had been with the thoughts of a sensuous happiness, it was not the fittest nor the best word for those whom he was training to rise out of sensuous thoughts to the higher regions of the spiritual life. For them, accordingly, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, are the words most dwelt on. With the thief dying on the cross the case was different. We can assume nothing in the robber-outlaw but the most rudimentary forms of the popular belief. The answer to his prayer gave him what he needed most, the assurance of immediate rest and peace."
The explanation of the apologist is as lame as the story of the Evangelist. Did Jesus go to Hell with the thief because the thief was unfit to go to Heaven with him? This apologist says that Jesus used these words -- gave expression to a false doctrine -- because the thief was incapable of comprehending the true doctrine. But this conflicts with the alleged words of the thief himself which show that he did comprehend the nature of the kingdom of Heaven. It was this, and not the peace of the grave, for which he prayed.
What were the centurion's words?
Luke: "Certainly this was a righteous man" (xxiii, 47).
Matthew: "Truly this was the Son of God" (xxvii, 54).
We have here the anomaly of a Roman officer -- a Pagan -- entertaining a Jewish doctrine of a Messiah, and accepting the Christian claim that Jesus was the Messiah. If this be true it is strange that he permitted his soldiers to insult and abuse Jesus.
After Jesus expired what did one of the soldiers do?
John: "One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side" (xix, 34).
It is remarkable that the Synoptics, who pretend to relate every important incident connected with the crucifixion, make no mention of the spear thrust.
What is said to have issued from the wound?
John: "And forthwith came there out blood and water" (xix, 34).
According to a well known physiological fact, if Jesus was still alive or had but recently expired, not blood and water, but blood alone would have flowed from the wound. If he was dead, and it is stated that he was, then neither blood nor water would have flowed from it. When blood is drawn from a living body it becomes separated into two parts, a thick substance known as febrine, and a watery fluid known as serum. John was familiar with this fact and supposed that this also took place in a corpse, which is not the case.
Dr. Cabanes, a noted physician of Paris, writes as follows regarding the crucifixion of Jesus:
"It appears that crucifixion alone could not have produced the death of Jesus, and in reference to the wounds produced by the nails, these wounds being the result of crushing, the hemorrhage was small. A burning fever might possibly occur which would be manifested by an intense thirst, but the flow of blood could not be sufficient to cause death. Death in this case is preceded by a comatose condition which would be inconsistent with the cry uttered in a loud voice by Jesus shortly before his last breath. All the commentators of the gospels further agree that Jesus did not remain more than three to six hours on the cross, and death cannot be produced by an exposure of this duration to this mode of torture.
"The generally accepted version of the lance wound received by Jesus is that the blow was struck on the left side and that there flowed from the wound water mingled with blood. It has been correctly remarked that blood does not flow from a corpse, and therefore if blood followed the lance stroke, Jesus must have been alive; further, in order that the blow might have killed the dying man, it must have injured a vital organ. It must be observed that a lance directed upward and from right to left could not reach the right-hand cavities of the heart without first opening the peritoneal cavity, traversing the liver, the paicardium and perhaps the pleura. We must therefore ask how the few hundred grams of blood which a right ventricle could contain, could penetrate to the exterior of the body after such a great wound. Also with those who die slowly there is found a distended heart in which the blood has very rapidly coagulated, and it must follow that if a flood of the liquid appeared on the side of Jesus it could not have come from the heart. With regard to the vena cava, its situation is too far back to have allowed it to be touched by the lance. If the wound had been in the stomach a lesion of the digestive tube would have been disclosed by an ejection of blood mingled with alimentary matter, either from the mouth or the opening of the wound, or at least by a discharge of blood into the abdominal cavity. Had the liver been touched the symptoms of an internal hemorrhage would have been observed, as in the case of President Carnot, in whose case the blow of the poignard, directed downward, perforated the liver and the portal vein, inducing a state of coma, whereas Jesus, we have been told, cried out with a loud voice. We thus see that death was not due to the lance wound or to the torture of crucifixion, as so often stated."
Was Christ's suffering foretold by the prophets?
Peter "But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled" (Acts iii, 18).
God had not showed by the mouth of all his prophets, nor by the mouth of even one of his prophets, that Christ should suffer. The prophets know nothing of a suffering Messiah. There is not a text in the Old Testament referring to such a Messiah. The passages relating to suffering cited by the Evangelists and applied to Christ have no reference whatever to a Messiah. The Encyclopedia Britannica says: "That the Jews in the time of Christ believed in a suffering and atoning Messiah is, to say the least, unproved and highly improbable."
What marvelous events occurred at the time of the crucifixion?
Matthew: "There was darkness over all the land" (xxvii, 45). "The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose" (51, 52).
Mark and Luke: "There was darkness over the whole land" (Mark xv, 33). "And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (38).
Mark and Luke know nothing of two of the important events related by Matthew; John is ignorant of all of them. Had these events really happened, the naturalists and chroniclers of that age would have recorded them. As they make no mention of them, we know that they did not occur.
If we accept the claims of their followers, nearly all the gods and heroes of antiquity expired amid the convulsions of Nature. The soul of Romulus went out amid the battling of her elements; "the sun was darkened and the sky rained fire and ashes" when the Hindu Krishna left his saddened followers; "the earth shook, the rocks were rent, the graves opened, and in a storm which threatened the dissolution of the universe," when Prometheus closed his earthly career, a pall of darkness settled over Egypt when her Osiris died; the death of Alexander was succeeded by six hours of preternatural gloom; and --
"Ere the mighty Julius fell,
How long did the darkness last?
Synoptics: From the sixth to the ninth hour (Matt. xxvii, 45; Mark xv, 33; Luke xxiii, 44).
According to Matthew and Luke this darkness lasted from the time that he was suspended upon the cross until he died. Yet his executioners are ignorant of it. Luke says: "His acquaintances, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things [the crucifixion]" (xxiii, 49), which they could not have done had this darkness really occurred.
If this darkness occurred, and began at the sixth hour, as stated by the Synoptics, then, according to John, the conclusion of the trial, the sentencing of Jesus, the preparations for his execution, and the journey to Golgotha, all took place during the darkness, a conclusion which the nature of the narrative utterly precludes.
Christian apologists have cited Phlegon who notices an eclipse which occurred about this time. But there is a variance of at least six years in regard to the time that Jesus was crucified. Besides an eclipse could not have occurred within two weeks of a Passover, on the occurrence of which he is declared to have been executed. Farrar says: "It could have been no darkness of any natural eclipse, for the Paschal moon was at the full" (Life of Christ, p. 505). Geikie says: "It is impossible to explain the origin of this darkness. The Passover moon was then at the full, so that it could not have been an eclipse. The earlier fathers, relying on a notice of an eclipse that seemed to coincide in time, though it really did not, fancied that the darkness was caused by it, but incorrectly" (Life of Christ, Vol. II, p. 624, Notes). "The celebrated passage of Phlegon," says Gibbon, "is now wisely abandoned" (Rome, Vol. I, p. 589, Note).
Was the veil of the temple rent, as our Gospel of Matthew declares?
The Gospel of Matthew, it is affirmed, originally appeared in Hebrew. St. Jerome, who had this original version, says: "In that Gospel which is written in Hebrew letters, we read, not that the veil of the temple was rent, but that a lintel (or beam) of a prodigious size fell down."
Commenting on this alleged prodigy, the rending of the veil, Strauss says: "Now the object of the divine Providence in effecting such a miracle could only have been this: to produce in the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus a deep impression of the importance of his death, and to furnish the first promulgators of the gospel with a fact to which they might appeal in support of their cause. But, as Schleiermacher has shown, nowhere else in the New Testament, either in the apostolic epistles or in Acts, or even in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in connection with the subject of which it could scarcely fail to be suggested, is this event mentioned: on the contrary, with the exception of this bare Synoptical notice, every trace of it is lost; which could scarcely have been the case if it had really formed a ground of apostolical argument. Thus the divine purpose in ordaining this miracle must have totally failed, or, since this is inconceivable, it cannot have been ordained for this object -- in other words, since neither any other object of the miracle, nor yet a mode in which the event might happen naturally can be discovered, it cannot have happened at all" (Leben Jesu, p. 789).
Matthew declares that the dead arose on the day of the crucifixion. When did they come out of their graves?
Not until after Christ's resurrection, which did not occur until the following week. "And many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection" (Matt. xxvii, 52, 53).
"They were polite enough to sit in their open graves and wait for Christ to rise first." -- Ingersoll
From what source was Matthew's story regarding these marvelous events derived?
From Zechariah: "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the East, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof ... and half of the mountain shall remove toward the North, and half of it toward the South.... Ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah King of Judah; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear" (xiv, 4-6).
Concerning this Dr. Wise says: "God who comes, according to Zachariah, to fight for Jerusalem, will stand upon Mount Olivet. Therefore, Jesus, during his fight against Pharisees, Sadducees and priests, had to make his principal home on Mount Olivet. But he could not split the mountain, as Zachariah imagined God would, and move one part North and the other South; therefore, the curtain of the temple had to be torn in twain when Jesus died, although none has ever mentioned the fact. The curtain was there some thirty-five years after the death of Jesus; had it been torn, somebody must have noticed it. The earthquake mentioned by Zachariah, of course, was borrowed to embellish Calvary.... Because Zachariah states God coming to Jerusalem, 'And the Lord my God cometh, all the saints with thee,' therefore the saints and not the sinners had to resurrect and visit the city on that particular day. But in the fertile imagination of Zachariah, the day of that terrible combat must be dark.... This darkness was transported over to Calvary to embellish the scene.... So these miracles were not wrought, but the entire outer embellishment of Calvary is taken from Zachariah; not because it was believed this prophecy referred to Jesus, but simply because the evangelical writers were incompetent to invent original poetry" (Martyrdom of Jesus, p. 116).
What request did the Jews make of Pilate concerning Jesus and the malefactors?
John: They "besought Pilate that their legs might be broken" (xix, 31).
This punishment, known as crurifragium, was a distinct mode of execution and was never united with crucifixion. Crucifixion, we have seen, was not employed to punish theft. Neither was crurifragium. Yet we are asked to believe that both modes of execution, two of the cruelest forms of punishment, were combined to punish these offenders. The Synoptics do not mention this punishment.
When the soldiers broke the legs of the thieves, why did they spare those of Jesus?
John: "That the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken" (xix, 36).
This refers to Exodus xii, 46, and relates to the disposition to be made of the lamb used at the Passover. Nearly the entire chapter from which John quotes is devoted to this subject. Among other things it states that "They shall eat the flesh in that night,...his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning" (8-10). If a part of this prophecy was fulfilled, may not all of it have been fulfilled? And if all of it was fulfilled, will not this account for the empty sepulchre?
Regarding the failure of the soldiers to break the legs of Jesus, as ordered, Supernatural Religion says: "An order having been given to the Roman soldiers, in accordance with the request of the Jews, to break the legs of the crucified, we are asked to believe that they did not execute it in the case of Jesus. It is not reasonable to suppose, however, that Roman soldiers either were in the habit of disregarding their orders, or could have any motive for doing so in this case, and subjecting themselves to the punishment for disobedience inflicted by Roman military law. It is argued that they saw that Jesus was already dead, and, therefore, that it was not necessary to break his legs; but soldiers are not in the habit of thinking in this way, they are disciplined to obey" (p. 993).
What demand was made by the Jews on the evening of the crucifixion?
John: That their bodies be taken down from the cross (xix, 31).
John was evidently familiar with the Mosaic law (Deut. xxi, 22, 23) which, in cases of hanging, enjoined the burial of the body on the day of execution, but seemingly ignorant of the Roman law under which they were executed, which, in cases of crucifixion, prohibited burial, requiring the body to remain upon the cross until decayed, or birds and beasts had devoured it. The Jews esteemed it sinful to allow a criminal to "remain all night upon the tree;" but the Jewish law was inapplicable to the Roman mode of punishment which presupposed that the criminal would remain on the cross several days and nights before death ensued.
What additional reason was there for having the bodies taken down?
Mark: "Because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath" (xv, 42).
The Sabbath began at sunset on the day that he is declared to have been crucified. The Jewish law would not permit his body, whether dead or alive, to be exposed on the Sabbath. Crucifixion, as we have seen, was a lingering death; several days usually elapsing before the victim expired. Now, is it reasonable to suppose that the Jews would demand, as claimed, a punishment lasting several days when they knew that he must be taken down from the cross in a few hours?
What did Pilate do when Joseph solicited the body of Jesus?
Mark: "Pilate marveled if he were already dead" (xv, 44).
Why should Pilate marvel if he were already dead when previous to this, according to John (xix, 31-33), he had, at the request of the Jews, ordered his soldiers to dispatch him if alive and take his body away?
Were the disciples present at the crucifixion?
John: They were, or one, at least (xix, 26).
According to the Synoptics, all were absent; all had forsaken their Master, all had fled. The Twelve Apostles at this time, unless Judas had already hung himself, as Matthew declares, numbered one traitor and eleven cowards.
What women followed Jesus and witnessed his execution?
Matthew and Mark: Women of Galilee (Matt. xxvii, 55; Mark xv, 40, 41).
Luke: "Daughters of Jerusalem," that is, women of Judea (xxiii, 28).
Where were Mary Magdalene and her companions during the crucifixion?
Matthew and Mark: "Looking on afar off" (Mark xv, 40; Matt. xxvii, 55, 56).
John: They "stood by the cross" (xix, 25).
Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, present?
John: She was (xix, 25).
Synoptics: She was not.
The Synoptics do not expressly state that she was absent, but if she was present, as John affirms, is it possible that they would ignore the fact when they mention "the strolling Magdalene" no less than seven times?
Who stood by the cross with the mother of Jesus?
John: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas" (xix, 25).
Mary must have been a very popular name to be given to two daughters of the same family. It is not probable that these sisters were both named Mary. John never mentions the name of Jesus' mother, and it is evident that he did not suppose her name was Mary. Were John the only Gospel, Christians would be ignorant of the Virgin's name. Mariolatry did not originate in the Johannine church.
To whom was entrusted the care of Jesus's mother?
John: "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved [John], he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own house" (xix, 26, 27).
"The teacher who had been to him as a brother leaves to him a brother's duty. He is to be as a son to the mother who is left desolate." -- Bible Dictionary.
Very touchingly expressed. But why was this duty imposed upon John when the Apostle James (the Less) was a brother of Jesus and a son of Mary? Was he a worthless ingrate, unable and unwilling to care for her? And what of Joses, and Juda, and Simon, and her daughters who remained at home? Had they turned their mother out of doors?
In whose sepulch was the body of Jesus placed?
Matthew: Joseph "laid it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out in the rock" (xxvii, 60).
John: "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulch wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jew's preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand" (xix, 41, 42).
It is evident from John that the sepulch did not belong to Joseph, but that it was one which happened to be convenient to the place of crucifixion; for, as Strauss justly argues: "The vicinity of the grave, when alleged as a motive, excludes the fact of possession."
Was his body embalmed when it was laid in the sepulch?
John: It was. "He [Joseph] came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (xix, 38-40).
Mark and Luke: It was not embalmed. "The women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments" (Luke xxiii, 55, 56); intending to embalm it "when the Sabbath was past" (Mark xvi, 1).
What is said in regard to wrapping the body of Jesus by Joseph?
Mark: "He bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen" (xv, 46).
This statement is rejected by critics. A member of the Sanhedrim would not desecrate the Passover by making a purchase on it.
What was the amount of the material used in embalming Jesus?
John: A hundred pounds (xix, 39).
This was sufficient to embalm a dozen bodies. Yet after seeing his body literally buried in the material, the women, we are told, procured more.
When did the women procure materials for embalming Jesus?
Luke: "They returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath Day" (xxiii, 56).
Mark (New Ver.): "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices that they might come and anoint him" (xvi, 1).
According to Luke they prepared the spices before the Sabbath began, that is, before the end of the sixth day, according to Mark, they did not procure them until "the Sabbath was past," that is, not until the beginning of the first day.
When did they go to embalm the body?
Mark and Luke: "When the Sabbath was past,...the first day of the week" (Mark xvi, 1, 2; Luke xxiv, 1).
Is it reasonable to suppose that in that warm spring climate (Dr. Geikie speaks of the fierce heat that prevailed at the time), they would let a wounded body lie two days, until decomposition had commenced, and then attempt to embalm it?
When was the sepulch closed?
All: When the body was placed in it (Matt. xxvii, 60; Mark xv, 46; Luke xxiii, 53, xxiv, 1, 2; John xix, 41, 42, xx, 1).
According to the Evangelists, the stone was rolled to the door of the sepulch as soon as the body was deposited, and according to Mark and Luke, the women were troubled as to who should roll away the stone when they went to embalm the body.
In sepulture of this kind, the tomb was not closed until the third day, and when once closed it was not to be opened. This deviation from the customary mode is evidently for the purpose of establishing faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, by shutting off all means of escape or removal without supernatural aid. The Evangelists are particular to state that Joseph "rolled a great stone to the door."
In a single paragraph, Scribner's Bible Dictionary concedes no less than seven Synoptical errors regarding the trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus: "The Synoptists make the Sanhedrim say beforehand that they will not arrest Jesus 'on the feast day,' and then actually arrest him on that day; that not only the guards, but one of the disciples carries arms, which on the feast day was not allowed; that the trial was also held on the feast day, which would be unlawful; that the feast day would not be called 'Preparation'; that the phrase 'coming from the field' (Mk. xv, 21) means properly 'coming from work'; that Joseph of Arimathaea is represented as buying a linen cloth (Mk. xv, 46), and the women as preparing spices and ointments (Lk. xxiii, 56), all of which would be contrary to law and custom."
In what year was Jesus crucified?
Not one of the Evangelists knows. They agree that he was crucified during the time that Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea, and Joseph Caiaphas was high priest of the Jews. But this, so far as Matthew, Mark and John are concerned, may have been any time from 26 to 36 A.D.
Luke, while he does not state the particular year, nor furnish data for determining it, is more definite. He says that Jesus began his ministry in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar," and his narrative clearly implies that he was crucified at the following Passover. Tiberius commenced his reign in August, 14 A.D. The fifteenth year of his reign, then, extended from August, 28 A.D., to August, 29 A.D. If Jesus began his ministry during the first months of this year, he might have been crucified as early as the spring of 29. But it is generally conceded that the time which this would allow for his ministry was far too brief, and that he could not have been crucified before 30 A.D.
The Christian Fathers who, for the most part, accepted the tradition of Luke and affirmed that his ministry lasted but one year, or less, held that the crucifixion occurred in 29 A.D.
Scribner's Bible Dictionary gives preference to 29 A.D. Cuthbert Hamilton Turner, M.A., Oxford, the New Testament chronologist of that work, after a lengthy review of the subject, says: "To sum up briefly, the separate results of five lines of enquiry harmonize with one another beyond expectation, so that each in turn supplies fresh security for the rest. The nativity in B.C. 7-6; the age of our Lord at the baptism, 30 years, more or less; the baptism in A.D. 26 (26-27); the duration of the ministry between two and three years; the crucifixion in A.D. 29."
This authority states that his ministry lasted two or three years. It was necessary to do this or reject John. By taking a year or more from John's ministry of Jesus and adding it to the one year ministry of the Synoptics -- by assuming that the Synoptics omit to mention one or more Passovers, and that one of the Passovers mentioned by John was some other feast -- it pretends to have reconciled the discrepancy regarding the length of Christ's ministry. But if his ministry lasted two or three years, as affirmed, he could not have been crucified in 29 A.D.
With orthodox commentators, a favorite method of reconciling Old Testament dates, as I have noted in a previous work, is to assume that a king, concerning the date of whose accession, or length of reign, a discrepancy appears, reigned in consort with his predecessor for a number of years sufficient to cover the discrepancy. This dishonest method of explanation -- for it is a dishonest trick, intended to deceive the reader and hide from him an error -- has been employed to reconcile Luke and John. By assuming that Tiberius divided the government with Augustus for two years preceding his accession to the throne, an assumption for which there is no credible authority, and that Luke accordingly reckons the fifteenth year from 12 A.D., instead of 14 A.D., when he really became emperor, it is possible to give Jesus a ministry of two or three years and still have him crucified in 29 A.D. But another irreconcilable difficulty remains. The Synoptics state that he was crucified on the Passover and on the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, on Friday. If so, he could not have been crucified in 29 A.D., for the Passover did not fall on Friday that year.
Dr. Farrar says it is "highly probable that the crucifixion took place at the passover of March, 30 A.D."
Justice Bradley of the United States Supreme Court, who made an exhaustive examination of all the evidence and arguments bearing on the question, decided in favor of 30 A.D. He says: "There were only three years from A.D. 27 to A.D. 36, inclusive, in which the 1st of Nisan, and consequently the 15th of Nisan, happened on Friday, and these were A.D. 27, 30 and 33, the last of which is very doubtful. But the crucifixion could not have happened before A.D. 28, and probably not later than A.D. 31. Therefore the year 30 is the only one which satisfies all the conditions of the problem.... Now, since in A.D. 30, the 1st of Nisan fell on Friday, the 24th of March, the 15th fell on Friday, the 7th of April, which was the day of the crucifixion."
Dr. Farrar and Justice Bradley are agreed in regard to the year of the crucifixion, but they are not agreed in regard to the calendar month in which it occurred. Dr. Farrar says it occurred in March; Justice Bradley says it occurred in April.
Justice Bradley says that 30 A.D. satisfies all the conditions. It does satisfy the conditions of the Synoptics, but it does not satisfy the conditions of John, as claimed. To satisfy the conditions of John it is necessary to adopt the untenable hypothesis of 12 A.D. as the date of Tiberius Caesar's accession. But whatever satisfies the conditions of John must necessarily conflict with those of the Synoptics.
Some Christian scholars place the crucifixion in 31 AD., others in 32 A.D. But neither year can be harmonized with the Synoptics' statement that he was put to death on the Passover, or with John's that he suffered on the day of Preparation. Neither can they be harmonized with either the Synoptics or John in regard to the duration of his ministry.
It is probable that a majority of Christian scholars today believe that Jesus was crucified in 33. Renan accepted this date. He says. "According to the calculation we adopt, the death of Jesus happened in the year 33 of our era. It could not, at all events, be either before the year 29, the preaching of John and Jesus having commenced in the year 28, or after 35, since in the year 36, and probably before the Passover, Pilate and Kaiapha both lost their offices."
The adoption of 33 allows for the four years' ministry ascribed to Jesus by John, but it cannot be reconciled with the brief ministry ascribed to him by the Synoptics. As for Renan, who in the first edition of his Jesus accepted the authenticity of John, but subsequently rejected it and accepted only the Synoptics, he has no Evangelistic authority for 33.
The Dutch theologians, Kuenen, Oort and Hooykaas, and many other Rationalists, give 35 A.D. the preference. To accept this year, however, it is necessary to reject the Passover crucifixion, and to assign to Jesus a much longer ministry than even John assigns.
Of one hundred Christian authorities who attempt to name the year in which Christ was crucified, twenty-three say 29, eighteen 30, nine 31, seven 32, thirty-seven 33, and six 35 A.D.
Thus it will be seen that not a year that can be named can be harmonized with the accounts of the crucifixion given in the four gospels. The result is that there is as great a lack of agreement in regard to the time of Christ's death as there is in regard to the time of his birth. Christians do not know when he was born, they do not know when he died, they cannot prove that he lived.
On what day of the month was he crucified?
Synoptics: On the 15th of Nisan.
John: On the 14th of Nisan.
This discrepancy is conceded by Scribners Bible Dictionary. It says: "It is the Last Supper which the Synoptics appear to fix by identifying it with the Passover. They say expressly that on the morning of the 'first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover' (Mk. xiv, 12), the disciples asked where the Passover was to be eaten. This would be on the morning of Nisan 14. In the evening, which from twilight onwards would belong to Nisan 15, would follow the Last Supper, and on the next afternoon (still, on the Jewish reckoning, Nisan 15) the crucifixion. St. John, on the other hand, by a number of clear indications (John xiii, 1, xviii, 28, xix, 14, 31) implies that the Last Supper was eaten before the time of the regular Passover, and that the Lord suffered on the afternoon of Nisan 14, about the time of the slaying of the Paschal lamb. We are thus left with a conflict of testimony."
On what day of the week was he crucified?
Synoptics: On Friday.
John: On Thursday.
The Synoptics agree that he was crucified on the day following the Preparation, that is, on the day of the Passover, and the day preceding the Sabbath. As the Jewish Sabbath fell on Saturday, he was, therefore, crucified on Friday.
John repeatedly declares that his trial and crucifixion occurred on "the preparation of the passover." If the Passover occurred on Friday, as the Synoptics state, he was crucified on the preceding day, or Thursday. It is claimed by some, though the claim is disputed, that the Synoptics are in error, that the Passover was never held on Friday.
On what day of the feast did the crucifixion occur?
Synoptics: On the Passover.
John: On the day of Preparation.
It is expressly stated in the Synoptics that he celebrated the Passover before his death. "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.... And they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" (Luke xxii, 7-15; Matt. xxvi, 17-20; Mark xiv, 12-18).
The author of the Fourth Gospel declares that the Last Supper was not the Paschal meal, and that Jesus was crucified on the day preceding the Passover, that is, on the day of Preparation. He refers to the events connected with the Last Supper as having taken place "before the passover" (xiii, l); after supper, when Jesus bade Judas do quickly what he proposed to do, he states that the disciples "thought because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast" (xiii, 29); at the trial, he says, the Jews "themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they might be defiled, but that they might eat the passover" (xviii, 28); when Pilate is about to deliver him up to be crucified, he even goes out of the way to repeat that "It was the preparation of the passover" (xix, 14).
This discrepancy is not, like many other Bible discrepancies, an unintentional error. It represents a conflict between two dogmas. The primitive church was rent with dissensions regarding this question, some contending that Christ suffered on the 14th Nisan, others that it was on the 15th. During the second century -- the century in which our gospels appeared -- this controversy was especially bitter.
According to John (1, 29, xix, 33, 36) Jesus was the Paschal Lamb, and as such, must be slain on the day of Preparation. The slaying of the lambs began at three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour at which Jesus is said to have expired. The Synoptics, on the other hand, in order to enable him to partake of the Paschal meal and institute the Eucharist, which is a survival and perpetuation of the Passover, must prolong his existence until after this meal, and consequently his crucifixion cannot take place until the following day. It was impossible for him to be the Paschal Lamb and at the same time partake of the Paschal meal. This necessarily produced a schism. The Fourth Gospel was written in support of the one side, the Synoptics in support of the other.
It is declared by the most eminent fathers of the second century that the Apostle John, whom some of them had known, was accustomed to observe the Paschal meal. This is another argument against the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel.
Referring to the Lord's Supper, as recorded in John, the Bible for Learners says: "It was not the Paschal meal. The Passover did not begin until the following evening, for he himself who was the true Paschal Lamb, and as such made an end of all sacrifices, must be put to death at the very day and hour ordained for the slaughter of the lamb -- not twenty-four hours later as the Synoptic Gospels say" (Vol. III, p. 684).
Admitting the discrepancy, but without determining which is correct, Smith's Bible Dictionary says: "The crowning application of the Paschal rites to the truths of which they were the shadowy promises appears to be that which is afforded by the fact that our Lord's death occurred during the festival. According to the Divine purpose, the true Lamb of God was slain at nearly the same time as 'the Lord's Passover,' in obedience to the letter of the law."
It was not "according to the Divine purpose" that Jesus was slain at the Passover, but it was according to a human invention that he is declared to have been slain at this time. These attempts to connect the crucifixion with the Passover afford the strongest proof that it is a myth.
What led to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus?
John: His miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. On learning of it the Jewish council met, and "from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death" (xi, 47, 53).
This is more difficult to believe than the miracle itself. It is the most improbable statement ever penned -- the one that does most violence to human reason. The cruelest savages on earth would not have slain nor even harmed a man who had proved himself the Conqueror and King of Death.
What did Christ say during his ministry concerning the cross?
"He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me" (Matthew x, 38; Luke xiv, 27).
"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark viii, 34).
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke ix, 23).
These utterances are alleged to have been made early in his ministry. Now, the cross as a Christian symbol is supposed to have been adopted after, and not until after, the crucifixion. Its introduction in the passages quoted suggests one of two things: either that the Synoptics put into the mouth of Jesus words that he never uttered, or that the cross, as a religious symbol, was used before the crucifixion, in which case its adoption by the church is no proof of the crucifixion.
The so-called historical books of the New Testament, the Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, declare that Christ was crucified. Do the remaining books of the New Testament confirm it?
In the first four Pauline Epistles, known as the genuine Epistles of Paul, the verb crucify-crucified appears in ten different texts, as follows:
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed" (Romans vi, 6).
"Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?" (1 Corinthians i, 13.)
"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (23).
"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (ii, 2).
"For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (8).
"For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God" (2 Corinthians xiii, 4).
"I am crucified with Christ" (Galatians ii, 20).
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" (iii, 1.)
"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (v, 24).
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (vi, 14).
Webster defines this word as follows: "1. To nail to a cross; to put to death by nailing the hands and feet to a cross or gibbet, sometimes, anciently, by fastening a criminal to a tree with cords. 2. In scriptural language, to subdue; to mortify; to destroy the power or ruling influence of. 3. To reject and despise. 4. To vex or torment."
The first, only, denotes a physical crucifixion, which, it is claimed, Christ suffered. The word, as used by Paul, in most instances, clearly denotes a crucifying of the passions and carnal pleasures, and the exceptions, when taken in connection with Paul's well known teachings, and allowing for the probable corruption of the original text, do not confirm the Evangelistic accounts of the crucifixion. Besides this it is admitted that Paul did not witness the crucifixion, and that these Epistles, even if authentic, were not written until nearly thirty years after it is said to have occurred.
In the eighteen books which follow, the word crucify appears but twice -- in Hebrews (vi, 6) and in Revelation (xi, 8). The word crucifixion does not appear once in the Bible.
Concerning the books we have been considering in this criticism, Paine writes as follows: "Whether the fourteen epistles ascribed to Paul were written by him or not, is a matter of indifference; they are either argumentative or dogmatical; and as the argument is defective and the dogmatical part is merely presumptive, it signifies not who wrote them. And the same may be said for the remaining parts of the Testament. It is not upon the Epistles, but upon what is called the Gospel, contained in the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and upon the pretended prophecies, that the theory of the church calling itself the Christian Church is founded. The Epistles are dependent upon those, and must follow their fate; for if the story of Jesus Christ be fabulous, all reasoning founded upon it as a supposed truth must fall with it" (Age of Reason).
How old was Jesus at the time of his death?
Luke: He was but little more than thirty years old.
John: He was nearly fifty. In a controversy with the Jews, during his ministry, he said: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" (viii, 56, 57.) This implies that he was nearly fifty at this time.
Discussing the question of Jesus's age, St. Irenaeus, the most renowned of the early Christian Fathers, and the founder of the New Testament canon, who lived in the century immediately following Jesus, says:
"He [Christ] came to save all through means of himself -- all I say, who through him are born again to God -- infants and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age; becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise, he was an old man for old men, that he might be a perfect master for all; not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age; sanctifying at the same time, the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise. Then, at last, he came on to death itself, that he might be the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence; the Prince of Life, existing before all, and going before all" (Against Heresies, Book iv, ch. xxii, sec. 4).
Commenting on the passage quoted from John, Irenaeus says: "But besides this, those very Jews who thus disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ, have most closely indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, 'Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad'; they answered him, 'Thou art not yet fifty years old; and hast thou seen Abraham?' Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old, it would unquestionably be said, 'Thou art not yet forty years old.' For those who wished to convict him of falsehood, would certainly not extend the number of his years far beyond the age which they saw he had attained.... It is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove him younger than the times of Abraham.... He did not then want much of being fifty years old" (ibid., sec. 6).
Nor did Irenaeus depend upon the Fourth Gospel alone for his authority. He was the companion of the aged Polycarp, whom Christians claim to have been the companion of the Apostle John. Concerning the testimony of Polycarp and others, he writes: "Those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [testify] that John conveyed to them that information. And he (John) remained among them up to the times of Tragan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the same account from them, and bear testimony to the statement" (ibid, sec. 5).
In regard to this testimony of the "divine Irenaeus," as he is called, Godfrey Higgins says: "The church has been guilty of the oversight of letting this passage from Irenaeus escape. One of the earliest, most respected, and most quoted of its ancient bishops, saints and martyrs, tells us in distinct words that Jesus was not crucified under Herod and Pontius Pilate, but that he lived to be turned fifty years of age. This he tells us on the authority of his master, St. Polycarp, also a martyr, who had it from St. John himself, and from all the old people of Asia" (Anacalypsis).
Of this testimony and its consequences, Judge Waite, in his History of Christianity (pp. 329, 330) says: "It must be remembered that Irenaeus had been a companion of Polycarp and others who had seen John, and that he was speaking of what had come to his personal knowledge from the elders in Asia. If, then, Irenaeus tells the truth, the evidence in favor of the fact is almost overwhelming. If, on the other hand, he would deliberately falsify in a matter of this importance what is his testimony worth as to the origin of the four gospels? Against this evidence, we have only the silence of the gospels. But if the silence of the Synoptics is consistent with a ministry of three or four years, why is not the further silence of all the gospels consistent with a ministry of twenty years?
"How would such a theory affect the received chronology concerning Christ? The date of the crucifixion at not later than A.D. 36, or when Christ was, by the received chronology, forty years old, is settled by the fact, that in that year, Pontius Pilate was removed from his government.... If, then, it be accepted as a historical fact that Christ was about fifty years old at his crucifixion, the date of his birth would have to be set back at least ten years."
Every line of these accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Christ bears the ineffaceable stamp of fiction. There was no Christ to crucify, and Jesus of Nazareth, if he existed, was not crucified as claimed.
For more than fifteen centuries an inoffensive, industrious and moral people have been persecuted, robbed and butchered by Christians, because their forefathers are said to have slain a mythical God.
Supposing that from the myth of Prometheus had sprung a popular religion, which, in its day, had, like the religions of Osiris, Bacchus, Krishna and Christ, overspread the earth. Then think of the devotees of this religion massacring the Hellenists because Zeus had crucified Prometheus! How long must our mythology, with all its attendant evils, rule and curse the world? How long must an innocent people suffer for an alleged crime that was never committed?