The information is here. My ultimate goal is to turn this into an essay for a collection by the end of the year.
The question of “who killed Jesus?” arises periodically. Oftentimes, we hear the traditional chants of “the Jews” or “the Romans” while in some quarters we are beginning to hear “God did it.” If we were reading Paul, these answers are sufficient; however, based on the Gospel of Mark I propose a different reading. Instead of Jesus as a sacrifice, I suggest that because God is absent and has forsaken Israel during the Roman occupation Jesus acts to take within himself the chaos of a God-abandoned cosmos so as to order a new world. I offer this interpretation through a reading of Lucan’s Pharsalia, focusing on the character of Cato the Younger.
This paper will argue that if we place the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel next to the Cato of Lucan’s poem, what emerges is an image not of a sacrifice whereby Jesus was only a willing victim forced by God, but a “divine man” and “hero” who acts by his own will to save Israel when God has abandoned his people. Based on this interpretative measure, Mark 14.36, is no longer a desire to be free from the sacrificial duties, but a request that God act where he has not acted before. Further, 15.34 stands to represent not simply the abandonment of Jesus, but so too of Israel. After briefly detailing Paul’s language of Jesus’s act, I will show a literological connection existing between Jesus in Mark’s Gospel and Cato in Lucan’s Pharsalia. Finally, I will offer a path forward on the question of “who killed Jesus?” by reading Mark through the disaffected Roman poet’s eyes.