#killingjesus Chapter 5 – When history doesn’t fit, make up new stuff.

Chapter 5, like chapter 4, is set in the scene of Luke 2, where Jesus is lost in the Temple. Here, the authors are able to craft an apocryphal story, based on what they assume is a historical one — and not one modeled by the author on one found in Josephus. They need this story to be real because it helps to drive home their agenda. Jesus is a learned boy, taught in an ancient religious/homeschool how to read and write, regardless that ancient literacy is questionable at best.

Further, because he was not stoned in the Temple, they can shift to how the Romans murdered criminals. They refuse to properly connect Judas the Galilean and Judas of Gamala, suggesting without evidence, that scholars wrongly conflate the two. Why? Because Gamala is needed to bare witness to the anti-liberatarian ideology of Rome. Further, it helps to cement crucifixion as the method chosen for anti-tax Jews. Granted, both Judases do the exact same thing, for the exact same reason, yet Gamala is simply longing “to raise his children in a better world.” Gamala goes on to found a new sect, whereby one bows to God rather than to Caesar. We are starting now to get the drift of the authors’ ideological agenda. History matters not, especially the theocratic, and often brutal tactics, the historical Judas used and advocated. His cause was not simply to bring about a better world, but to bring about a world devoid of Romans and collaborators.

The authors now are free, after rescuing Gamala as a sort of Robin Hood, to speak to the issue of taxes. Gone is the issue of what taxes religiously represented and how they were connected to the rise in income inequality. Replaced is citations of Josephus as a “great historian” and a separation of Romans and Gentiles.

Later in the chapter, they turn to the scarcity of money. I assume the authors mean coinage, something quickly introduced into Palestine at the time. They also speak to the hatred of the tax collectors. Again, this is absent other context not fitting their rather clear political agenda. The means of production were shrinking, replacing with coins which only a few could have. Replacing this actual discussion are images of Mary Magdalene of the city of Magdala, a city of 40,000 people the authors tell us. Then there is Joseph, a “skilled carpenter” who was able to pay his taxes. Of course, this is not based in evidence, but it does appeal to the inerrantists.

What is causing the rebellious outbreaks? The authors write, “The residents of Galilee are independent thinkers. Their persistent belief that they will ultimately control their destiny is one reason Judas of Gamala’s demand that they rise up against Rome had such a profound effect.” The ancient Galileans were not British colonists living in or around 1776. Further, given the concepts of communal life, limited good, and other social constructs not likely to be challenged seriously for 1700 years, it is impossible to consider such an individualist mind set plaguing ancient Galilee in the early years of what is now the first century. But, the authors insist, this is true — without supplying any scholarly evidence — and this is what drove religious revivalism.

Post By Joel Watts (10,051 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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