The Death of Jesus
Jesus Is Crucified
- Jesus and the Temple
- Roman Responsibility in the Trial of Jesus
- The Role of the Jewish Sanhedrin
- Who Was Responsible
- A Death by Crucifixion
- History and Its Interpretation
Jesus still has meaning for us today, but he speaks to us out of his Galilean, Palestinian, Jewish context. He cannot be separated from the people of whom he was a part and who were a part of him. Jesus conveys to us the challenge of a prophetic religious spirit, and his teaching continues to challenge and to console. As a man of faith and prayer, in solidarity with God, Jesus was also in solidarity with the people. For it is of the essence of Jesus' God to be with the people. God belongs to the people.
Jesus' world was both Jewish and yet hellenized, which created tension both within Judaism and between Judaism and non-Jews. Judaism in the time of Jesus was pluralistic and sectarian: Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, as well as varied baptizing, messianic, and resistance movements -- varied programs competing for the liberation, renewal, or survival of Judaism. There was a difference between life and religion in rural Galilee and in Jerusalem-dominated Judea. In both there was a gap between the rich and the poor. The presence of the Roman occupying forces was more strongly felt and apparent in Judea.
Within strict limits, Judaism was allowed self-governance. Its leadership, officially the Sanhedrin, comprised an aristocratic elite: the chief priests, elders, and scribes. The chief priests and elders were predominantly Sadducean; the scribes represented both Sadducean and Pharisee interests. The reigning high priest presided over the Sanhedrin. The Jerusalem high priestly families who rose quickly to power during the Roman period exercised much power and influence. The two most powerful families in this priestly aristocracy were those of Boethus and Annas. Joseph Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas, was high priest from 18 to 36 C.E. The houses of Boethus and Annas could both boast eight high priests each.
The lay aristocratic membership on the Sanhedrin comprised large landowning, prominent Jerusalem-based Jewish families. The Sanhedrin was predominantly Sadducean in spite of the rise of the Pharisees after 76 B.C.E. and their membership on the Sanhedrin as well. But the priestly and lay aristocracy remained Sadducean, and the Sadducees were an economic elite and political power as well as an identifiable religious group.
Taxes were excessively burdensome, especially for the farmers, and agriculture was the most important occupation in Galilee. The abuses of taxation were complicated by the method of collecting taxes as well as by two sets of obligations -- the taxes required of Jews by their Law and the taxes imposed by Rome. The foreign occupation was the dominant political fact. The wealth of most Sadducean families induced them to be politically favorable to the status quo. They were not suffering economically under the occupation, and peaceful co-existence was to their advantage. The Sadducees were religiously conservative as well; the basis of their doctrine was strictly the five books of Moses, the Law. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. The justice of God that the doctrine of resurrection had come to undergird was not their primary concern; they need not be concerned with heavenly rewards; The Pharisees by contrast were a theologically or religiously open, with a basis for their beliefs in the oral Law or Tradition; nevertheless, strictly observant, sectarian, and conscious of legal and racial purity. Although never involving a majority of the people, the Pharisees provided a program for the renewal of Judaism that contrasted with those of the Essenes and some of the baptizing sects. The Pharisees as a whole were well intentioned, faithful, practicing, zealous Jews -- the future of Judaism after 70 C.E. lay with their program for renewal and reconstruction.
It is highly questionable whether there was anything like a "Zealot party" at the time of Jesus, but there was resistance to Rome, sporadic and varied uprisings, and resistance fighters. Open rebellion was always a threat, and often associated with messianic hopes for the people and the nation.
The far majority of the people were neither Sadducee nor Pharisee nor Essene, whose programs hardly reached out to their lives; they were simply the people, with diverse needs and interests, am ha-aretz (people of the land) who fell short of the canons of someone else's more strict observance of the Law, or were ignorant of the Law, those judged by the more righteous to be outside the Law and the pale of salvation, those without status or learning or wealth. These are the ones to whom Jesus of Nazareth had great appeal.
From among these, the crowds and multitudes who sought after Jesus for healing, for hope, for his teachings, for wonders, there emerged disciples more consciously committed to Jesus' program for the renewal of Judaism. These were among those he more regularly taught. He was their Teacher. To others he was their prophet. And to some the awaited Messiah. Not even all his disciples grasped all he had to say. Some disciples preached in association with his name; some he sent out on a mission like his own; some confused his message as much as they proclaimed it. These Galileans were inspired by him and put their hope in him. He also had his "disciples" or "friends" in Judea as well; we think of the Bethany stories in particular.
Jesus, a practicing and devout Jew himself, observant of the Law as he so keenly understood it, someone who so loved the people, and so completely loved his darling God with all his strength, this Jesus had made frequent visits to Jerusalem during the course of his life, for the great Jewish festivals. There his preaching and teaching, his prophetic spirit and actions, his reputation and following did not go unnoticed -- by the people, by the chief priests, by the elders, by scribes, by resistance fighters, by the Romans. In Judea as in Galilee, the charismatic and enigmatic Jesus attracted crowds as well as friends and disciples. But the friends of Jesus were not the whole picture. In Jerusalem he surfaced an opposition as well, which was to prove to be more serious than the kind of repartee in which he engaged the Pharisees in Galilee.
The opposition to Jesus cannot be identified with Judaism as a whole, nor with the majority of Jews, nor with the more popular Pharisee party. Jesus was recognized as a prophet and sage by a vast number of Palestinian Jews. Yet it was Jesus' "fate" that his mission, ministry, message, and style would bring him into his greatest conflict with thc Jerusalem. aristocracy -- although even here there were among the leaders those who defended him and may have been in some sense his disciples, particularly Pharisees like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus' final pilgrimage to Jerusalem was an occasion for a clash with the Sadducean leadership and with Rome. The Synoptic Gospels themselves attribute little that is negative to the Pharisees in the "trial" of Jesus.
Jesus' uncompromising integrity, radical opposition to religious hypocrisy, prophetic solidarity with the poor and social outcasts, freedom to challenge, sense of authority with respect to the Law, all contributed to an inevitable tension between his charismatic sense of mission and the more or less "legitimated" roles of thc Jerusalem elite and Roman procurator. At this point it would be enviable to be a combination of economist, social scientism, cultural anthropologist, and ancient historian to be able to convey more effectively the dynamics of a society quite different from our own. We know today that there can be no quest for a historical Jesus apart from the quest to understand better from the inside that Judaism which was a part of Jesus and of which he was a part as well. 1 If Jesus was anything, he was a Jew par excellence.
We have seen Jesus in the first volume of this series as a public figure, praying, preaching, healing, teaching, attracting disciples, provoking opposition. His ministry lasted for approximately two years and was located primarily in Galilee; it ended abruptly and tragically in Jerusalem. The story of his death is one of the earliest elements of the Jesus material which we have. Yet, historiographically, it is even more difficult to assess the events of Jesus' last days than it is other points in his ministry. Thc individual passion narratives in many aspects confirm each other. In other aspects they make the search for history exceedingly difficult. Can all the related events be fit into the amount of time allotted? Do we know whether the Sanhedrin in fact passed the death sentence and what the precise role of the Roman procurator was? Any effort to reconstruct the final days of Jesus will remain a hypothesis. Although some hypotheses are better grounded, such efforts remain hypothetical, tentative, speculative, and most likely will continue to remain that way. This is so, given the nature of the materials at our disposal -- four very convergent and yet highly individual narratives.
At one time consensus favored the existence of a very early, pre-Marcan, passion narrative. In fact, it was almost axiomatic that Mark was that passion narrative with an extended introduction. But such can no longer be assumed. There may not have been such a well organized narrative behind Mark who played an active editorial role in the construction of what appears to be his very own passion narrative. 2 Mark's narrative is the major source for Matthew. 3 Yet the Matthean narrative is distinctively Matthean, as well as being heavily dependent upon the Marcan narrative. With respect to Luke and John, however, the same cannot be said. 4 In these cases it appears as if we have another source or tradition and not simply Mark. Thus we can speak of three primary sources (the Marcan-Matthean, Lucan, and Johannine) for understanding Jesus' final days on earth. At the center of these sources is one central indisputable fact: Jesus of Nazareth was put to death by crucifixion outside Jerusalem while Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator of this occupied territory. The year was probably 30 C.E.
Jesus and the Temple
There is no reason to conclude (despite the impression one can get from the Synoptic Gospels) that Jesus only went to Jerusalem once during the time of his public ministry as a preacher. As a religious, practicing, and prayerful Jew, he probably went to Jerusalem often, perhaps even annually, after the age of twelve. There was no reason for him to refrain from going to celebrate the great feasts after his baptism. Thus it is very probable that he would have gone to Jerusalem at least twice during the course of his ministry. And there was sufficient reason for him to carry on his mission there. Although Galilee was home base, Jesus does not seem to have limited himself to bringing the message to the Galileans. The Gospels give evidence that Jesus had close friends in Bethany. These relationships did not simply develop during the Passover week of Jesus' last days. He had been to Jerusalem, had preached and taught there, before the final visit during which he was put to death. When Jesus came to Jerusalem that last time, he was already known there.
It appears as if Jesus set forth quite resolutely on the occasion of what would be his last visit to Jerusalem. He was not unaware that danger was involved. Had he been there on a previous occasion, perhaps the year before, when he had already made enemies and created a disturbance? Was it after the opposition he had evoked on an earlier occasion that he became more and more conscious of a prophet's death? Had he become so determined to speak the truth that he knew it was unlikely that he would return alive from this visit? Yet Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem one more time, aware of danger. The disciples were perhaps more naive.
On varied occasions Jesus seems to have taught in the Temple and its vicinity. There are frequent references to his presence there (Mk 14:49//Mt 26:63; Lk 19:47; 21:37-8; 22:53; Jn 8:2; 18:20). Jesus visited the Temple, and respected its role in Jewish life. Thc prophet from Galilee would have been known in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. On one such occasion, after teaching in the Temple, Jesus predicted its destruction (Mk 13:1-28//Mt 24:1-2; Lk 21:5-6). In itself, this displayed no lack of respect. At the same time Jesus seemed able to envision a Judaism without the Temple. He did not seem alarmed by such a possibility. Although he did not speak of himself as destroying the Temple, his words may have reflected a callousness with respect to Temple and Jewish traditions. Did Jesus not see thc Temple as essential to his faith, to Jewish faith? Whatever Jesus may have thought, the news of such a prediction would have gotten around. The prophet from Nazareth predicted the destruction of the Temple! How would such teaching have affected the priests? The scribes? What about the danger of such a teaching to the people?
There is little reason to doubt that Jesus made such a prediction. This is only one way in which the Galilean was like the prophets of old. Jeremiah too had foretold the end of the First Temple (Jer 7 and 26) and it was also one of the things which had solidified opposition against Jeremiah.
Did Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the Temple include the idea that he would be the one to destroy it, and did it include a self-reference about its being rebuilt in three days, as the false witnesses at the trial of Jesus maintain (Mk 14:58//Mt 26:61; Mk 15:29//Mt 27:40)? The fact that these accusations are placed in the mouths of false witnesses creates a problem for interpretation. There is no reason to think that the evangelists considered the entire prediction as something falsely attributed to Jesus. They record it separately elsewhere (Mk 13:1-2). Thus it seems to be more the case that Mark is saying that the Sadducees relied upon untrustworthy testimony. What in fact may have been false in the charge is the fact that Jesus had prophesied that he would destroy the Temple. This does not seem to be a part of the prediction itself (Mk 13:1-2). On the other hand, it is easily conceivable that reports of the prediction did carry with them the impression that Jesus himself would be involved. Reports may have implicated him, especially after the Temple incident. The self-reference to rebuilding the Temple in three days may stem from something Jesus said which was falsely interpreted and which implicated him further, or it may be influence in an "after the fact" way. There is no reason to exclude the likelihood that Jesus predicted his resurrection. The historiographical kernel, however, is Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the Temple, and separate teachings concerning his impending death and resurrection.
Even more offensive, however, more alarming, was the Temple incident recorded by all the evangelists, whatever it consisted in (Mk 11:15-17//Mt 21:12-13, Lk 19:45-46, Jn 2:13-17). It is not easy to determine the precise character and timing of this attack or outburst on Jesus' part. Underneath it, however, there is an incident from the life of Jesus. It is very possible that this event did not occur during Jesus' last visit to Jerusalem but rather during an earlier visit. 5 The Synoptics compress all of Jesus' Jerusalem activity into one visit. Therefore the Johannine setting may be more accurate (2:13-17). If it was during an earlier visit, it could account for Jesus' assurance that there would be opposition on his next visit and for the sensitivity toward Jesus which may have already existed in Jerusalem prior to his final visit as well as for thc rumors which associated Jesus with being anti-Temple. Whatever the incident consisted in, its actual character escapes historiographical precision. The nature of such an incident lends itself to unreliable reports. It is quite possible, however, that the Temple police did get involved and intervene. An action as major as what Jesus seems to have undertaken would have met resistance.
But what was the nature of Jesus' concern? Although we cannot bc sure, we can conclude at least that Jesus' motivation was religious. Temple officials could hardly avoid taking Jesus' attack personably, however. They were the ones responsible for the Temple and current practice. Thus Jesus' attack seems to have been felt as, and probably was, an attack on the Temple pricsthood, especially thc high priests. Thc accounts record chief priests and scribes conspiring against Jesus immediately after this episode (Mk 11:18-19// Lk 19:47-8).
Yet thc attack secms to have been motivated not only by a religious sense, but also by (what is inseparable from true religion) socio-economic reasons as well. C.H. Dodd writes, "The charge is that the priesthood was exploiting the sanctity of the Temple to make it a stronghold of a powerful and exclusive faction." 6 The chief priests benefited socially and economically from their control over the Temple. It was not simply their (Sadducean) theology which was being threatened but their socio-economic power and status.
In other words, it was a question of authority. Jesus, known to speak and teach with authority, and even preaching authoritatively within the precincts of the Temple itself, was challenging the very authority of the chief priests in Jerusalem, the highest "legitimate" authority within Judaism. It was not a challenge that would go unnoticed. Nor was their authority, and the power and profit it carried with it, to go unprotected. Jesus was a false teacher (to some of the Pharisees); but even more, a political and economic threat (to the Sadducees). Any earlier opposition (Pharisaic, on religious grounds) was small by comparison to this opposition, that of the Jerusalem aristocracy, for whom Jesus' outrage cut away at the very structure of established Jewish society. This is the meaning of the Temple incident. Jesus did not preach against the Temple. He respected and loved it, although he could envision Judaism without it. Jesus' attack was not on the Temple, as it had not been on the Law. His accusation was against an establishment that benefited economically from poverty perpetuated through religion. Jesus'"attack" on the Temple was prophetic and symbolic. 7
Roman Responsibility in the Trial of Jesus
One of the major questions for Christians about the death of Jesus is why it happened. Another important question, in the light of history, and especially the history of conflict between Christians and Jews, is the question of responsibility for the death of Jesus. Christians have used Jewish involvement to fuel the fire of anti-Judaism. Thus it has become difficult to free any discussion of the trial of Jesus from biases. Jewish interpretations of the trial tend to place the responsibility on Pilate and Rome, and understandably so, given their experience of a history of anti-Semitism accompanied by the Christian charge of deicide. At the same time, Christian interpretations, including the New Testament itself, have tended to place the responsibility more within Judaism. 8 In this discussion it is more difficult than usual to get to the facts behind the interpretation. Whatever tentative conclusions we come to can in no way be a basis for anti-Semitism. Whatever the facts and course of history, no such inquiry can or should support anti-Jewish polemic. Both Roman and Jewish authorities were involved. We will approach the question of Roman responsibility first. The Romans, in fact, were the ones who executed Jesus. In what way were they responsible for his death?
Pilate was the Roman procurator at the time of Jesus' execution. He was present in Jerusalem although he ordinarily resided at Caesarea Maritima. The death sentence which was passed was crucifixion, a Roman penalty. Thus the sentence, in the end at least, was given by Pilate and implemented with the assistance of Roman soldiers.
Now the tendency among Christians, and within the New Testament itself, is to exonerate Pilate. Critical inquiry, however, challenges that perspective. What we do know of Pilate from history is that he was his own man. The Gospel portrait is not consistent with the facts of history. Pilate could be ruthless. Philo describes him as "naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness," and refers to his conduct as procurator in terms of "briberies, insults, robberies, outrages and wanton injuries, executions without trial constantly repeated, ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty." 9 There was sufficient cause for Jewish authorities to be cautious toward him. On the occasion of one clash between Pilate and the Jews of Jerusalem, Pilate was ready to slaughter them but decided not to. On a second occasion, when he appropriated Temple funds to build an aqueduct, he had many of them beaten with clubs. Later Pilate slaughtered a group of Samaritans. 10 And who were the Galileans Pilate had massacred (Luke 13:1)? Pilate was not wishy-washy, and was sensitive about his own authority, about any potential rebellion against Rome or threat to his political career. The historiographical data indicate a tendency in the Gospels to minimize Pilate's responsibility. But why?
The Gospels were written in the first century. Tension existed between Judaism and what was at first a Jewish sect which later became Christianity. The painful split between synagogue and church was probably inevitable, certainly after the decision in Jerusalem concerning circumcision and Gentile Christians, and also after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. and the Christian lack of support for the Jewish cause. As Christians became more and more a missionary and Gentile church, they also had to make their rapprochement with Rome. The Christian faith spread rapidly throughout the Empire but it was not a religion welcomed by Rome. Already in the first centuries there were persecutions and the charge of treason. Thus Christians had no need to complicate their lives, to implicate themselves as being anti-Roman or subversive, or to do anything to lend credence to the suspicions against them. Their leader had been sentenced to death by a Roman procurator as a subversive against Rome! It was to their advantage to play down this fact, and to place blame elsewhere. Thus the sociology of the Gospels' formation helps us to perceive the unhistorical portrait of Pilate they provide.
Was there any possibility that Pilate would have wanted the death sentence? The question of Roman and Jewish involvement in the trial is related to another question. Was the offense of Jesus more political or more religious? Apart from the difficulty of separating these aspects of life within first-century Palestine, there remains the fact that Pilate could have perceived Jesus' threat in political terms even if Jesus himself did not understand his mission in this way. Any allusion to messianism would more than likely have left the impression of political messianism. The more commonly held view of the awaited Messiah contained Davidic, national, political overtones. Resisting this particular messianic claim may have been a struggle for Jesus himself. Clearly his communication in this regard was not highly effective. Even those closest to him did not understand. One of his closest companions and outspoken followers, Peter, claimed that he was the Messiah (Mk 8:29). The sons of Zebedee, James and John, both close to Jesus, did not understand the kind of reign of which Jesus spoke. Are we to assume that a large number of those who heard or followed him did not think of him eventually in messianic terms? And would not the messianic misinterpretation of his mission be a particular possibility in Jerusalem? Could the people of Jerusalem easily have seen that he was not a leader in a Galilean resistance movement?
Why did Pilate come to Jerusalem at the time of the great Passover celebration of liberation from bondage in Egypt? The celebration itself calls to mind a God who liberates people from oppression. And Pilate was no fool. He had put down Jewish rebellion before and would hold in check what even appeared to be rebellion. How was Jesus received by the Jews as he entered Jerusalem on this particular visit?
There were Jews there who knew of Jesus from previous visits. Other Galileans had come with him while still others arrived before him who now also came out from Jerusalem to greet him. They ushered him into Jerusalem triumphantly, almost defiantly, as king of the Jews. They proclaimed him as the son of David. How would all of this have been perceived by the Jewish authorities? By Pilate himself? It would be foolish to think that Pilate knew nothing of what was going on. It would have been prudent to nip things in the bud, to set up an example quickly before things went too far. Pilate would have quickly asked to have this man delivered over to him.
Whatever else may be said, Jesus was tried before Pilate and executed as a messianic pretender. This was in Pilate's question to Jesus: are you the king of the Jews (Mk 15:2)? Jesus failed or declined at this point to defend himself adequately. Pilate had little choice but to execute him as an insurrectionist. At the very least Jesus was a threat to the peace at this festival time.
Thus one can plausibly argue that the primary initiative and responsibility was that of Pontius Pilate, and the argument is not merely hypothetical. A misinterpretation of Jesus could have led the Roman occupying authorities to see him as a menace for Rome -- which to some degree he was whether he wanted to be or not. 11
The Role of the Jewish Sanhedrin
Given the plausibility of Pilate's own desire to execute Jesus, is there sufficient basis for maintaining any significant Jewish responsibility at all, or do the Gospel accounts simply represent a tendency within early Christianity to place the blame on the Jews? To suggest that the Gospel narratives inclusion of leading Jewish authorities in the proceedings against Jesus was entirely the result of the tendency in the early church to attribute responsibility more and more to the Jews may overstate a case. 12
The Synoptic Gospels do not consider the Jewish people themselves as involved in the arrest of Jesus and the proceedings against him. The enemies of Jesus were rather the power in Jerusalem. Opposition to Jesus during his ministry is focused by the Synoptics on the tension between Jesus and some of the Pharisees. When we come to his opposition in Jerusalem, however, during his final visit, the Pharisees go unmentioned. Given the Gospels' critique of Pharisaism, it is noteworthy that blame for the death of Jesus is never associated with them. The opposition of the Jerusalem establishment is primarily Sadducean. The Gospels themselves associated the Jewish responsibility with the chief priests, the elders of the people, and leading scribes. 13 At least the first two groups would have been Sadducees, the Jerusalem aristocracy. Although the Sanhedrin at this time contained some scribes of the Pharisaic party, it was still primarily Sadducean. However formally assembled the Sanhedrin was, the opposition to Jesus would have been primarily Sadducean. Historiographically it seems reasonable to limit Jewish involvement to the upper class, the powerful Jerusalem lay and priestly families.
A further question is the degree to which the Sadducean "trial" involved a sentencing of Jesus and what the charge was. Was there consensus for a death sentence? Or did they only recommend such a sentence? What power did they themselves have? This last question remains disputed and unresolved. In the Gospel of John (18:32) the Sadducean leadership passed Jesus on to Pilate because they did not have the authority to execute him. Is this historical fact or Johannine explanation? The issue is important in any attempt to assess the role of the Jewish high priest and the role of Pilate. If the Sanhedrin had the power to pass the death sentence and execute Jesus but did not do so (for they passed him on to Pilate), then it would appear as if Pilate were the enemy and the Jews were not to blame. 14
As we attempt to understand the role of the Sanhedrin, we must raise the unanswerable question of their motive. The usual assumption is that the Jewish motivation for getting rid of Jesus rested on religious grounds. lf so, there could have been several charges and it does seem as if a mixture of accusations appeared during the proceedings. As we have seen above, Jesus' attitude with respect to the Temple seems to have been an issue (Mk 14:57-58//Mt 26:10-61). Was it Jesus' theology of the Temple? Was it his prediction about its destruction? Was it the Temple incident itself? The reaction to Jeremiah's prediction concerning Jerusalem had been, "This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears" (Jer 26:11).
Was it Jesus' messiahship, or his sonship, that was the issue (Mk 14:61-64// Mt 26:63-66// Lk 22:67-71)? Had Jesus claimed to be the Messiah? Apart from Jesus' own claim, is this how he was seen, how his ministry was interpreted, how his disciples spoke, what the people had come to believe? Did the high priest see Jesus as a false messiah? Or was even the possibility of Jesus' being perceived as a messianic zealot too great a danger? Or was the charge of blasphemy based on the way in which Jesus spoke about his relation with God, his own authority to act in God's name, his power over sin, or his talk about being God's very own son? At any rate some held that he was guilty of blasphemy.
Or was Jesus convicted for being a false prophet (Mk 14:65/ / Mt 26:68/ / Lk 26:64)? According to the Scriptures, a false prophet was deserving of the death penalty (Dt 13:1-5). "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die" (Dt 18:20). There is no question that Jesus was seen by many as a prophet. But was he a false prophet? Was the power by which he acted that of Beelzebub? Was his teaching false? Did he not deserve to die?
Or was it not so much false prophecy as his attitude toward the priesthood, or toward the high priest, even contempt of court? "One of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, 'Is that how you answer the high priest?"' (Jn 18:22). Was it the established priestly elite he threatened? How did Jesus perceive their authority? Did Jesus not fall under the condemnation of Deuteronomy 17:12, "The man who acts presumptuously, by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die; so you shall purge the evil from Israel." Both John Bowker and Edward Schillebeeckx have given this particular text a significant role in their understanding of the trial of Jesus. 15
Or was Jesus' offensiveness to the Sanhedrin and threat to the aristocracy something other than religious? Is it a valid assumption that Jewish opposition was more religious than political? While we generally grant that Pilate's motive was political, perhaps the Sanhedrin's motive was also and equally political. Was Jesus worth the risk of the Jewish revolt, of a Roman slaughter, or Roman reprisals in the sacred city, of potential loss of rights? Pilate was justifiably to be feared. It may well be such fear rather than any particular religious offense that was the final straw.
Or could the aristocracy's motivation have been even moreso socio-economic? The Sadducees were as much a socio-economic elite as they were a religious party and these interests seemed at stake. Jesus was unafraid of Herod in Galilee, and unafraid of the high priesthood in Jerusalem. His religious teaching and practice appeared to threaten their social status and position in Judaism. Did not his attack on Temple practice affect both their authority and their source of revenue? Did not his political menace threaten their preferential position with Pilate? How could Caiaphas remain high priest for an unusual length of time, during the entire procuratorship of Pilate, without being careful not to anger or fail him? Was it for Caiaphas, or Annas, a question of "better for one to die for the nation" or "better for one to die than for us to go under."
In the end, of course, one cannot on historiographical grounds decide what motive may have most influenced the chief priests, elders, and scribes. It is probable that all or a variety of motivations and accusations came into play. One was offended by Jesus' seeming blasphemy, another by his seeming indifference to their authority, another by the political risk they faced, another by sensitivity to position and power, another by false teaching. Probably many factors played a role and there may have been no one formal charge. Likewise there may have been no formal passing of the death sentence. Some may have argued that Jesus deserved to die but there may or may not have been consensus about either the charge or the sentence. The session(s) may or may not have been formal proceedings. But something about which there was agreement was the decision to pass Jesus over to Pilate. Whether they were passing the buck, or plotting for a death sentence, or seeking an execution of a sentence already passed, we will never know. What seems clear, however, is that some of the leaders of the Sanhedrin were involved.
Who Was Responsible?
We have seen solid reasons for not dismissing or diminishing Pilate's role in the proceedings against Jesus. Pilate was not simply a servant of the Jewish court, or at the mercy of the high priest. If anything, the reverse was the case. Pilate was quite able to assert his own authority; he was the Roman procurator in Judea; he was in Jerusalem on this occasion precisely out of concern for Roman interests.
At the same time there are solid reasons for not dismissing the role of the chief priest, and other high priests, along with some of the elders in the Jerusalem aristocracy, and some of the scribes, whether or not their own proceedings had the character of a formal trial or not. Here it is not a question of the Jewish people, nor the Pharisees, but of some of the leading authorities who where more or less Sadducean in sympathy. The Pharisees at this period had membership in but did not control the Sanhedrin. Nor can we say for sure that there was a formal trial of the Sanhedrin.
Thus any discussion of the responsibility for the sentence against Jesus is not a question of either/ or, but a question of both Pilate's and Caiaphas' roles. The historical truth lies somewhere between. Further than this we cannot really go on historiographical grounds. We must reconcile ourselves to the inconclusiveness of all hypotheses. Among such hypotheses, we find:the "misunderstanding" theory, based on Mark 12:17 and John 18:37. Jesus preached a non-political reign of God, but many, including his disciples, misunderstood him. Hence Jesus was perceived as a political menance and action was taken against him only because his message and activity were misunderstood. Initiative against Jesus here could have come from either Jewish or Roman authorities.It may be that Pilate had ordered the high priest to arrest Jesus and hand him over, having heard rumors and reports concerning Jesus. Jewish deliberation was then a question of whether Jesus deserved to die, and whether they in fact should hand him over. This seems to have been one thing on which they agreed: hand Jesus over to Pilate lest the nation be destroyed. The politically wise decision was to collaborate with Rome.It may be that Caiaphas had become concerned about the Jesus case and took the initiative. He may have misunderstood Jesus' political aims, or may have had other reasons to see Jesus as a danger to the nation. Jesus was dangerous to Judaism itself, and to priestly authority within Judaism. Thus Caiaphas' manifold fears led him in consultation with others to apprehend Jesus and to hand him over either as a preventative measure before Pilate became alarmed and to prove his own loyalty, or to get rid of Jesus who deserved to die according to the Law. In all these situations there were varied degrees of misunderstanding or misinterpretation on the part of Jewish and Roman authority.The "popular unrest" theory in which Jesus is not so much misunderstood but recognized as posing a real threat. Jesus was not a zealot, nor did he have nationalistic political goals in mind, but because of his effect on the people he was nevertheless a political risk. Again here, as in the case of misunderstanding the initiative for the arrest could have been with Pilate (as in 2 above) or with the chief priests (as in 3 above).
So, did Pilate exert pressure on Caiaphas, for whatever reasons, or did the Jewish authorities exert pressure on Pilate? We cannot know. Nor is there any way to know whether the action taken against Jesus was due to his being more a religious threat, a political threat, or an economic threat. Moreover, these are not easily distinguishable. Prophetic religion has socio-economic and political implications, and Jesus was a prophet, and more. 16
Perhaps our need to place blame at all is itself the fault. If our concern is with responsibility, we cannot finish such a discussion by surveying only Roman and Jewish involvement. We must raise the issue of the disciples' responsibility for Jesus' death. For were not Jesus' followers and disciples also equally at fault? And is not this image of his disciples part of the passion narratives as well? 17 The disciples were responsible, right up to the end, (a) for misrepresenting Jesus' cause and (b) for deserting Jesus and failing to come to his defense. How often did his closest disciples fail to understand Jesus' teaching about the (reign of) God to come (Lk 22:24-30//Mk 10:35-45//Mt 20:20-28)? How often did the people try to make him a king? Did not the disciples desert Jesus after his arrest? Could they not have brought testimony and witness in his favor? It was not only Judas who betrayed Jesus (Mk 14:10-11). Peter's betrayal is told in all four Gospels (Mk 14:66-72, Mt 26:69-75, Lk 22:56-62, Jn 18:25-27). And who is seen as betraying Jesus more, the high priest or Peter in the narrative of the Sanhedrin trial (Mk 14:53-15:1)? Who was more responsible, those who arrested him or those who deserted him? And is Peter not symbolic of all the disciples? The three disciples particularly close to Jesus are hardly models in Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42). All the disciples protested "too much" that they would not deny Jesus (Mk 14:31), and twenty verses later"all forsook him and fled" (14:50). Whatever the disciples did, wherever they went, they were not with Jesus when he went through this ordeal (another wilderness) alone (Jn 16:32). If blame is to be assessed, Jesus' disciples as well as Jesus' opposition are to blame -- and not one more than the other. We cannot defend the disciples who followed after Jesus in his life, but when the time came for them to go "into the wilderness" were not present.
The catch in any discussion of responsibility or guilt for the death of Jesus lies in our somewhat perverse need to assign blame. There is something significant in the passion narratives' inability to enable us definitively to blame anyone. Luke records a final perspective on the whole ordeal: "Father, forgive them" (Lk 23:34). 18 Forgive the Judases, the Peters, the Caiaphases, the Pilates. The desire to fix guilt is a direct contradiction to the teaching of Jesus as interpreted in the Fourth Gospel: Let the one without guilt cast the first stone (Jn 8:7). Also, attend to the two by four in your own eye before you inspect the sliver in your neighbor's eye: judge not lest you be judged (Mt 7:1-5). The purpose of the passion narratives is not to affix blame but to convey the passion of the passionate one, Jesus' ongoing call to an ordeal in the wilderness. The passion narratives tell the end to which Jesus' life and ministry came: a tragic one. Jesus is the victim of a variety of factors, including his own free choices. It is almost as if the power and forces of evil have won out. This man, who was God's man, in solidarity with God, and in solidarity with the people, and who was so completely a man for others, was sentenced to a cruel death. But will his cause die with him? Is the power of evil more powerful than the power of good?
A Death By Crucifixion
The more typical mode of execution among the Jews was death by stoning, although burning and slaying are also mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. There is some evidence for the use of crucifixion among the Jews, although it was never a typical Jewish method of execution. After being stoned to death (Lk 24:14), someone condemned for blasphemy or idolatry was also hanged, publicly exposed (Dt 21:22-3, Jos 10:26). 19
Crucifixion was a method of execution commonly used by the Romans, widespread in the ancient world and was also used among the Greeks. 20 Among the Romans it was particularly used on the lower classes, for slaves, violent criminals, and rebels in the outlying provinces. As a public execution, degrading and brutal, it was considered an effective deterrent. After the sentence was passed, the condemned person was frequently flogged and scourged as well. Although the method of crucifixion varied, commonly a heavy wooden beam was placed upon the condemned person's neck and his arms stretched out and fastened to it. He was led thus to the place of execution where he was lifted up and the beam secured on another vertical one sufficiently high so that his feet hung suspended in air. The arms were usually tied to the cross beam, though nails were sometimes used. The feet were left dangling, or sometimes fastened by ropes. The man was usually stripped, which added to his disgrace. As he weakened and was unable to support himself, the weight of his body pulled him down and death eventually came by suffocation.
It is hard for us to imagine the disgrace that Jesus' death involved for his contemporaries, Jews, Greeks and Romans. He was given the death sentence and executed in what was considered a most barbaric and brutal way. One can imagine what a "stumbling block"(l Cor 1:23) this fact would be for the proclamation of the gospel. The early Christians were offering a condemned criminal, a crucified messiah, as the source of hope and salvation. Needless to say, it made of them a laughing stock in both Jewish and Gentile worlds. It is easy to see why interpreting, understanding, theologizing on the death of Jesus was one of the earliest and most difficult tasks of early preaching.
Anyone in the Roman world could easily refute or mock the Christian movement simply by reference to the cross of Jesus. What has become to us a sign of salvation would have been seen as simply folly, madness. When Paul "points out to the commuity which he founded that his preaching of the crucifled messiah is a religious 'stumbling block' for the Jews and 'madness' for his Greek hearers, we are hearing in his confession not least the twenty-year experience of the greatest Christian missionary who had often reaped no more than mockery and bitter rejection with his message ...." 21
Crucifixion can be contrasted with the"popular entertainment" of throwing people to the wild beasts. The latter was not a regular form of execution; crucifixion was much more common. Both, however, provided entertainment. Crucifixion was also more agonizing; the process of death could take several days. Often the victim was left to rot and was not buried. The family and relatives shared in the public disgrace.
Crucifixion means little today other than to turn our thoughts to Jesus. In the first century, however, it evoked a sense of shame, whether in the East or West. The Christians' "Christ" and "Lord" had been sentenced to a shameful death by legitimate authority, a death reserved for lower class criminals, rebellious slaves, and rebels against Rome. This fact was a scandal which made "Jesus crucified" a stumbling block, madness, a challenge to be interpreted. This was the end of his life to which his faith, his mission, his ministry, his God had brought him. How were his disciples to feel or understand what had happened?
History and lts Interpretation
There are few facts about Jesus of Nazareth as historiographically unassailable as is the historicity of Jesus' death by crucifixion during the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, 26-36 C.E. Jesus was probably crucified in April of 30 C.E. 22 At the same time there are few facts about Jesus of Nazareth more subject to interpretation. Although all the evangelists provide us with detailed historical information, none of them are primarily interested in a historical account as such. Few events in the life of Jesus were more important in the life of the church or more subject to its theologization. This is why any effort at a chronology of these events will always remain a hypothesis. 23 To understand the passion narratives is to realize that one is not being given a report of events so much as an invitation to penetrate the meaning of that event, to understand it. The event is simply the death, and death by crucifixion, of God's chosen one. How does one make sense of that? We must remember that all our accounts of Jesus' death have come to us as interpreted in the light of the resurrection, and this has made all the difference in the world. The resurrection turned defeat into victory, disillusionment into hope. How different the narratives and interpretations would be, had there been no resurrection. What the disciples of Jesus experienced and understood after Jesus was apprehended and crucified but prior to his appearance to them was bewilderment, confusion, fear, sadness.
Thus we need not attempt to reconstruct what was even in history primarily a task for hermeneutics. With the death of Jesus, his history became inseparable from hermeneutics -- a fact which has been true ever since and which makes any purely historiographical approach to his life inadequate. His "history" cannot be presented factually; his "Historie" is "Geschichte." 24 This man cannot be understood, even as a historical phenemenon, by historiography alone. Thus history itself cannot be understood by historiography alone, but requires hermeneutics.
Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet and sage from Galilee, was taken into custody either by Roman soldiers, Jewish guards, or both. He was probably apprehended by Jewish officials, although we do not know who in fact took the initiatiue to order the arrest. He was then taken and held prisoner in the house of the high priest, Caiaphas. Perhaps prior to that he had been taken to the house of Annas for an unofficial preliminary questioning. Or perhaps such unofficial proceedings took place at the house of Caiaphas. This interrogation was not an official session of the Sanhedrin.
Early the next morning a definitive action was taken by the chief priests, elders, and scribes who had gathered to discuss the case. He was to be sent to Pilate. We cannot determine whether or not the morning session was an official session of the Sanhedrin either. We do not know whether it formally arrived at a death sentence. All we know is that the consensus was to turn Jesus over to the jurisdiction of Pilate. The case thereafter remained under the control and in the hands of Pilate. He may have had Jesus transferred to Herod to see whether Herod had any comment to make. But Pilate issued the death sentence on the grounds that Jesus was a potential rebel who claimed to be king of the Jews. Pilate ordered the customary preliminary scourging after which Jesus was led to the place of execution outside the walls and crucified. He died, a false prophet and false messiah. On Golgotha, his life on earth ended. 25
The task of interpretation now begins -- not interpretation as propaganda, but interpretation as understanding. Was Jesus a false prophet or a true prophet? Did Jesus ever claim to be Messiah, was he a false messiah, or was he truly a messiah? If a true prophet, how does one understand God's seeming abandonment of him? 26
1See the bibliography in Volume One of this series. One might mention in particular J. Duncan M. Derrett, Jesus's Audience, the Social and Psychological Environment in Which He Worked (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1973) an introductory work with an excellent annotated bibliography; and Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, (175 BC-AD 135, 3 vols., revised and edited by Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, Matthew Black, and Pamela Vermes (Edinburgh: T and T Clark. 1973).
2See Gerard S. Sloyan, Jesus on Trial, Jesus on Trial, the Development of the Passion Narratives and Their Historical and Ecumenical Implications (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973), an introduction to the sources, issues, and bibliography. The movement away from the existence of a pre-Marcan passion narrative and toward an emphasis on Marcan composition and redaction can be seen in H. C. Kee's Community of the New Age: Studies in Mark's Gospel (Philadelphia Westminster Press, 1977), 30-32; also in the collection of essays, The Passion in Mark, ed. Werner H. Kelber (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), esp. 8-16, 153-59, 176-80. For an introductory discussion of the Marcan passion narrative, see Donald Senior, The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1984), vol. 2 in a series of four.
3See Donald Senior, The Passion Narrative According to Matthew, A Redactional Study (Louvain: Leuven University, 1975), esp. 1-8, 335-41. For a more introductory discussion of the Matthean passion narrative, see Donald Senior, The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1985), vol. I in a series of four.
4See Joseph Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, X-XXIV, Anchor Bible, vol. 28A (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1985) 1359-1531. Harold Hoehner, Herod Antipas (Cambridge: University Press, 1972), 224-50. A.M. Perry, The Sources of Luke's Passion Narratives (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1920). On the Fourth Gospel, see Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, XIII-XXI, Anchor Bible, vol. 29 A (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1970), 787-91. Note that Brown seems to favor the existence of a pre-Marcan narrative, 787-89, a point questioned by others. See n. 2 of this chapter.
5See Etienne Trocmé, Jesus and His Contemporaries, trans. R.A. Wilson (London: S.C.M. Press, 1973), 110-20; Albert Nolan, Jesus Before Christianity (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1978), 101-6. Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, XIII-XXI, 114-25. Also Marcus J. Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus (New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1984), 163-200.
6C.H. Dodd, The Founder of Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1970), 146. See also W.R. Wilson, The Execution of Jesus (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970), 95-101.
7With different emphases, both E. P. Sanders and Edward Schillebeeckx interpret the Temple incident in terms of prophetic, symbolic actions. E. P. Sanders, Jesus, An Experiment in Christology, trans. Hubert Hoskins (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), 243-49.
8An excellent, respected, and scholarly treatment from the perspective of Jewish historiography is Paul Winter's On the Trial of Jesus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter and Co., 1961). Also see the more recent What Crucifed Jesus? by Ellis Rivkin (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984). An important study of Jewish approaches to the death of Jesus is David R. Catchpole's The Trial of Jesus, A Study in Gospels and Jewish Historiography from 1770 to the Present Day (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971). See Catchpole, 296, for a listing of significant reviews of Paul Winter's work. For a balanced summary of the varied approaches to this question, see Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, XIII-XXI, 791-802. Also see Fitzmyer, A Christological Catechism, New Testament Answers (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), 58-62; Hans Conzelmann, Jesus, trans. J. Raymond Lord, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973), 82-86.
9Philo, "The Embassy to Gaius" (De Legatione ad Gaium), trans. F. H. Colson, vol. 10 of Philo, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962), chap. 38, par. 301-5.
10Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, trans. Louis H. Feldman, vol. 9 of Josephus, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridgc: Harvard University Press, 1965), book 18, par. 55-62, 85-89.
11One of the better presentations opening the door to the full role of the Roman authorities is that of Paul Winter, n. 8 of this chapter. It is well worth reading in order to balance traditional approaches which downplay Roman culpability. See esp. pp. 136-48. My major criticism of the book pertains to the chapter on the enemies of Jesus, 111-35, where he goes too far in eliminating the tension between Jesus and Jews of his own day although much of what he says in that chapter is also accurate. For both critical and appreciative comments on Winter, see Catchpole, index, also pp. 105-10, 113-26, 148-86, 203-20, 261-71, 296. Thc effort to interpret Jesus himself in political terms is exemplified in S.G. Brandon's The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Stein and Day, 1968), to a great degree a misinterpretation of the trial. For comments critical of Brandon see Catchpole, 116-26.
12Although the tendency to associate the responsibility more and more with the Jews is present in thc Gospels, one must be careful not to urge this too much. It does not account for all references to Jewish involvement. See Catchpole, 263-71; Brown, John XIII-XXI, 793-94; Sloyan, 36-73.
13Note the contrast in references in Paul Winter, 121-26.
14With respect to the Sanhedrin's power in areas of capital punishment, distinguished scholars line up on both sides. For the argument that Jews did have the right to exercise capital punishment under the Roman occupation prior to 70 C.E., see T.A. Burkill, "The Competence of the Sanhedrin," Vigiliae Christianae, 10 (1956), 80-96, and also "The Trial of Jesus," Vigiliae Christianae, 12 (1958), 1-18; Paul Winter, On the Trial of Jesus, 9-15, 67-90. For the opinion that the Sanhedrin did not have power over the capital sentence, see P. Benoit, "Le procès de Jésus," Exégèse et Théologie (Paris: Cerf, 1961), 1, 265-89, also "Jésus devant le Sanhedrin," Exégèse et Théologie, I, 290-311, and The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 113-14; J. Blinzler, The Trial of Jesus (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1959); W. R. Wilson, The Execution of Jesus, 1-16. A significant support for this latter view is A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), esp. 1-47, and "The Trial of Christ," in Historicity and Chronology in the New Testament, Theological Collections 6 (London: SPCK, 1965), 97-116. Catchpole, 154, writes, "The distinction asserted by Blinzler, between the right to pass a sentence and the right to execute it turns out to be entirely justified. The conclusion which seems most in accord with the evidence is that the Sanhedrin could pass sentence but that the execution could not be in their hands but was restricted by and to the Romans."
15John Bowker, Jesus and the Pharisees (Cambridge: University Press, 1973), 42-52. Bowker writes, "The major category of offense into which Jesus appeared to fall was that of the so-called 'rebellious elder'" (46). See Schillebeeckx, Jesus, 312-18, for his interpretation of Jesus' trial.
16See A.E. Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982), 11-35, esp. 30-35. The decision to hand Jesus over was moreso political and judicial. Yet there may have been other underlying motives as well.
17See Schillebeeckx, Jesus, 320-9.
18There is a difficulty regarding Luke 23:34a. It is reasonable to hold on the grounds of textual criticism that the words do not belong to the original text of the Gospel of Luke. See Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, X-XXIV, 1503-1504.
19The degree to which crucifixion was ever practiced among the Jews remains a disputed question. There is evidence of its use, but it does not appear to have been a common method of executing the death penalty. See Paul Winter, 62-74, for the thesis "that a sentence of death carried out in Judaea in the first century of our era by the mode of crucifixion was a sentence which had been passed by a Roman authority" (62). Fitzmyer maintains that "it is far from clear that crucifixion was never employed by Jews in Palestine," A Christological Catechism, 62. See Fitzmyer, "Crucifixion in Ancient Palestine, Qumran Literature, and the NT," Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 40 (1978), 493-513, esp. 503-4; also in To Advance the Gospel, New Testament Studies (New York: Crossroad,1981),125-46. A.E. Harvey writes, "We can say with absolute confidence that at the time with which we are concerned this form of execution in a Roman province could have been carried out only by the Roman officials, and only on the orders of the Roman governor" (Jesus and the Constraints of History, 12). For Jewish death sentences, see Gustaf Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua (New York: Ktav Publishing Co., [l929] 1971), 185-95; Paul Winter, 67-74. Also Josef Blinzler, "The Jewish Punishment of Stoning in the NT Period," 147-61, and Ernst Bammel, "Crucifixion as a Punishment in Palestine," 162-66, both in The Trial of Jesus, ed. Bammel, Studies in Biblical Theology, Second Series, 13 (Naperville; Alec R. Allenson, 1970).
20The best treatment on crucifixion in the ancient and Roman worlds available in English is Martin Hengel's Crucifixion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977). Also see Paul Winter, 62-66.
21Hengel, Crucifixion, 19.
22The datcs 30 and 33 C.E. are the two dates for which there is support. More common is 30 C.E. See Conzelmann, Jesus, 23-25; Samuel Parsons, "The Mission of Christ," in Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (New York: McGraw Hill, 1971), vol. 53, 181-86. Hoehner, Herod Antipas (Cambridge: University Press, 1972), favors the year 33 as the date of the crucifixion, see pp. 171, 130-31, 180-83. The term of Pontius Pilate as procurator was 26-36 C.E.
23This does not mean that efforts to establish such chronology are without value. It simply means that they remain tentative and hypothetical. One of the more discussed chronological problems pertains to whether Jesus' last meal with his disciples was in fact a paschal/passover celebration and whether he celebrated this meal on Tuesday or Thursday evening. An earlier celebration and arrest allows more time for many of the events "compressed and telescoped" by the evangelist into less than one day and has a basis in the dispute over the calendar and thus the date of the Passover. For further discussion of this alternative of a chronology of three days, see Annie Jaubert, The Date of the Last Supper (Staten Island, New York: Alba House, 1958/1965), whose hypothesis formed the basis for later discussions; Matthew Black, "The Arrest and Trial of Jesus and the Date of the Last Supper," New Testament Essays, Studies in Memory of T. W. Manson, ed. A.J.B. Higgins (Manchester: University Press, 1959); Eugene Ruckstuhl, Chronology of the Last Days of Jesus (New York: Desclée Co., 1965).
24A further discussion of the distinction between "Historie" and "Geschichte" is contained in chapter six. See pp. 196-97.
25Most of the authors on whom this sequence of events depends have been mentioned. See especially W.R. Wilson, The Execution of Jesus (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970), for a fine readable introduction to the trial; and J. Blinzler, The Trial of Jesus (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1959); David Catchpole, The Trial of Jesus, esp. 261-71; and Paul Winter, On the Trial of Jesus, esp. 136 48, for more advanced treatments. For a collection of valuable essays, see The Trial of Jesus, edited by Ernst Bammel, Studies in Biblical Theology, Second Series, 1 (Naperville: Alec R. Allenson, 1970), esp. the essays by Catchpole, "The Problem of the Historicity of the Sanhedrin Trial," 47-65; J.C. O'Neill, "The Charge of Blasphemy at Jesus' Trial Before the Sanhedrin,' 72-77; Harold Hoehner, "Why Did Pilate Hand Jesus over to Antiphas?" 84-90. Also see Harold Hoehner on Pilate and Herod in his Herod Antipas, 224-50.
26Schillebeeckx identifies three early efforts to understand the death of Jesus: (1) Jesus died the death of a prophetic martyr, (2) Jesus' death is included within God's plan of salvation as part of salvation-history, and (3) Jesus' death has a saving efficacy. The first of these was probably the earliest interpretation. See Schillebeeckx, Jesus, 272-319; also Christ, The Experience of Jesus as Lord, trans. John Bowden (New York: Seabury Press, 1980), 823-32. Also Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus--God and Man, trans. Lewis L. Wilkins and Duane R. Priebe (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968), 246-51; Norman Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 181-85.