https://www.interfaith.org/articles/golgotha/ IMO this thesis/ article is so filled with unjustified conclusions and assumptions that it should not be taken seriously. I’ve tried to pull-out a few passages for quick comment, but there too many others to attempt a detailed point-by-point rebuttal. It must be remembered that it was not the Apostles who began the ‘mystery’ of a human sacrifice whose shed blood was a washing of regeneration for the forgiveness of man’s sins. It was not the chosen twelve of Jesus who made him a ‘sin-eater’, or a ‘scapegoat’, nor his death the center of Christian doctrine. The writer's misunderstanding of the nuances of the principle of sacrifice, and of Christ’s sacrifice in particular, has been discussed in other threads. “For many shall come, saying, I am God, and shall deceive many.” We have always been led to understand that Jesus was speaking of others who would come as false Messiahs, but no one has suggested that Jesus was speaking of those who would come claiming that he was the, I Am, the Living God. “And he asked them, But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he charged them to tell no one about him.” (Mark 8:29-30 RSV) … Jesus insists that believing he is God is a deception and his disciples throughout time should beware of its detrimental effects. . Who do people say that I am? Thou art the Christ! Who do you say that I am? Thou art the Christ. Tell this to no one! Why? Because it is not true in the sense in which the original statement translates, the Christ being God. Once more this student underlines the statement that the word, Christos, is not use in these verses, but rather, oti ego eimi, the I am, God. Only ignorance would refuse to accept what is in front of its eye. This argument is subjective and selective, mangling reality to suit the author’s own ‘conspiracy theory’ trying to prove that Jesus insisted he was NOT the Christ, and ignores passages that don’t fit his narrative: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:28-29 “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” John 14:19 etc “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you Simon bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 13:15-20 etc It is Paul who announced the martyred ‘lamb’ and the sacrificial blood of a human sacrifice to atone for our sins, not the Christ, and certainly not Peter. It is Paul who demands that we observe the bloodied sacrament of, Communion, not the Christ, not Peter, James, or John, and certainly not the Jerusalem Church. A misunderstanding of the act of communion, and debateable that the practice is attributed to Paul. Jesus’ personal following numbered in the dozens, if not more than a hundred. Those who were closest to him, including his family, women like Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James, Mary and Martha, Salome,* and Mary his mother; workers, self-proclaimed disciples, and the Apostles. *(The Gospel According to Thomas: Harper and Row; 1959: Pl. 9; Log 63: 30-31. “Salome said: I am Thy disciple.”) And now, after his thunderous entrance into the city, crowds followed everywhere. Jesus and the twelve were never alone and when they managed to separate themselves from the pressing crowd it was only to be a few yards away. And at every moment, eyes watched and ears listened. In this scenario it would have been almost impossible to arrest him when he was alone, in the light of day or at night. Even when he was in Bethany in the house of Simon, many people surrounded him including Lazarus’ sister, Mary, who had anointed him with oil. Completely unjustified assumption. Paul’s early genius prescribed sacramental acts that were eventually made part of his congregations’ activities, and deeply influenced the very Gospels that the mother Church in Jerusalem attempted to protect. Paul’s concept stated that Jesus’ blood availed for the forgiveness of sins (Romans 3:25; Ephesians 2:13; I John 1:7) Eventually, this concept influenced Matthew and it was added to the text. (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume 7; Page 575) Unjustified, but it says so in The Interpreter’s Bible What Jesus said during the meal is unimportant to this study. Unimportant, or inconvenient? Much of it is drawn on Old Testament scripture and doctrine. Some of it has been added to from the writings of Paul. However, over the centuries the activities that took place that evening have become the sacramental doctrine of Christianity. Says … (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume 7; Page 574 on Matthew 26:26-28; Page 575 on Matthew 26:30; Page 577 on Matthew 26:26:31, etc) “So the band of soldiers and their captains and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him.” (John 18:12 RSV) The band of soldiers might have been Romans, but since Jesus fell under Herod’s jurisdiction and not Rome’s, they were probably part of Herod’s contingent. Scripture tells us that Herod was in Jerusalem during the Passover celebration, and his troop might be the more likely to turn Jesus over to the High Priest. The Roman cohort certainly would not have done so. And an additional point may also be made here. The Romans would have never hesitated to arrest Jesus during the day, regardless of the crowds in attendance. They had spilled Galilean blood often enough under Sabinus and Pontius Pilate, and in the Temple itself. The Herodians, however, were even more terrified of Jesus’ power over the multitudes than they had been of John. Herod most certainly would not have attempted such an act in broad daylight. The further we move from the event in history, the greater the army becomes that was sent to take him. Their numbers grow and their rank increases with every moment. And in this mass of troops, with lights glowing and sabers clashing, the trampling mob goes ‘stealthily’ up the Mount, moving through a multitude of encamped pilgrims without causing so much as a stir in their number. Incredible! Unprofessional conjecture. This is no fiction, this is no addendum, this is history true and brutal. “Now, there came about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Josephus: Antiquities: Book XVIII; Chapter III.3) Josephus sets the date of the crucifixion at, 33 A.D. Jesus would have been between thirty-eight and thirty-nine years old. The church has explored the events of this act beyond that which is humane, yet what he said and thought in his last hours on this earth, remain blank pages. In the narratives of the crucifixion and the resurrection, the scriptures have been freely altered to suit the needs of the ‘church’ from the first century until this very day. This passage from Josephus is known to be modified by later interpolation ... Who was at the cross when Jesus was being crucified? It is an interesting question that history asks, and the answer will surprise many who have not given it proper consideration, including many ‘influential’ theologians. The Apostles were gone! They had fled, including Peter, who had denied him and then run away. The twelve were gone, nowhere in sight, and the cheering crowds were now looking for other heroes and following other masters. So who was there on the Place of the Skull? Roman soldiers, part of Pilate’s contingent; the two thieves whom Josephus identifies as revolutionists, certainly not criminals. The chief priests, scribes and elders, a few of the general public, and the women were there. Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, Zebedee’s wife who was the mother of the ‘sons of thunder’. But then we are challenged by man’s egoistic nature. And in answer, we must state the theologian’s position clearly. “The fact that there has been no mention of these women disciples or ministrants to Jesus has led some scholars to suppose that (Mark 15:41) verse 41a is a gloss.” Conjecture Jesus would have been alone on, Golgotha, and there would have been no witness to what followed. Really! It is obvious from these attitudes on the part of the disciples, and some of the women, that there was no understanding whatsoever about a risen Christ, or a resurrection theme. Their knowledge was limited to what they had been taught by Jesus, and what they understood from life experience. It’s not obvious at all, except by extreme selection of the passages chosen to support the statement. The very heart of the Christian faith depends exclusively on the crucifixion and resurrection. Every sect of this religion agrees on these two traditions. That they happened is not questioned by the vast majority of Christianity, that the tradition is a reality to those numbers is understood. In Pauline Christianity it is emphatically demanded that a human sacrifice be available for the atonement of man’s sins. It is absolutely required that a human, blood offering be accessible to requite the sins of man. The author as usual completely misunderstanding the concept of sacrifice. Giving a valuable animal from the herd to God became the empty ritual of blood upon the altar, which error Christ’s sacrifice put an end to. At this point tradition holds that the Roman soldiers scourged Jesus. Beaten senseless, so weakened that he could not carry the crossbar of his own cross all the way to its destination. Simon the Cyrene was forced to take the cross and carry it for him to Golgotha. Stories of Jesus’ agony come down to us from the Roman Church, of beatings with whips that had bone or steel tips, terrible beatings that broke bones and caused near unconsciousness. Nowhere in the Gospels is this scene reported. No scene like it is recorded anywhere in the Bible. There is nothing in the New Testament that tells us of Jesus being beaten in the manner of the bloody tradition that has been handed down through the centuries. Nowhere in the Gospels does it tell us that Jesus was handed over to the soldiers for the specific task of beating or flogging him. Nowhere in the Gospels does it tell us that the Roman soldiers battered him senseless, punched him, beat him, whipped him, or brutalized him. At which point the author goes on to explain that Jesus was not ‘scourged’ but only ‘flogged’ The synoptic Gospels do not even go that far. Jesus is never turned over to the soldiers to be scourged, whipped or beaten, but rather to be publicly humiliated, one of the definitive meanings of the word, ‘to scourge’. “Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the Governor took Jesus…” (Matthew 27:26-27 RSV) … The scriptures use only one word for, scourge, and the only meaning that fit the church’s tradition when these writings were finally translated in the 14th century. They added a Latin word to a Greek text. But in the Greek, there were meanings for the word known to the Greeks other than that used in the Gospels. As if in their own defense, the Gospels demonstrate those meanings. The word, scourge, in the English and the Latin translations mean to whip, especially when used to inflict pain or punishment. But other meanings in the English and Greek translations include meanings of greater validity and importance in the Gospels. It is an instrument to censure, publicly condemn, chastise, to force as though by blows of a whip, to subject to severe criticism or satire, to mock or humiliate. (Enepaizon; Luke 22:63; to sport with or against, to mock, to deride.) … Luke has no scourging at all. “Pilate now took Jesus and had him flogged; and the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns…” (The New English Bible: John 19:1) So that’s ok then -- Jesus wasn’t all that badly hurt if he still able to talk to the women of Jerusalem: In Luke we have a long dissertation rendered by Jesus to the women who are following him. (Luke 23:27-31 The New English Bible) It is hard to conceive of the battered Jesus that tradition would have us accept when such documentation is placed in evidence. Or are we to dismiss the Gospels as being invalid, without any basis in fact, and something less holy than man’s tradition? Jesus did not have to carry his own cross: Fact, there is no place in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus is compelled to carry his own cross. In each of them, word for word, Simon of Cyrene is given the cross at the very beginning of the journey to, Golgotha. Jesus is never given the cross, and in fact, leads the way. Because Simon of Cyrene in fact did all the carrying: “So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him…” (John 19:17 RSV) Tradition has him stumbling pitifully down a cobblestone street, falling under the weight of the wood, but in the synoptic Gospels, he never lifts it. Another is chosen to carry it for him. And though John’s Gospel does have him carry it, he carries it all the way to, Golgotha, with no apparent problem. Which is to be believed? Jesus did not die on the cross. The Quran says it (no disrespect to the Quran intended) “…and their saying: We did kill the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the messenger of Allah; whereas they slew him not, nor did they compass his death upon the cross, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified to death; and those who have differed in the matter of his having been taken down alive from the cross are certainly in a state of doubt concerning it, but only follow a conjecture; they certainly did not compass his death in the manner they allege…” (The Holy Qur’an: Olive Branch Press; Muhammad Zafrulla Khan: Surah 4:156) “Call to mind also when you claimed to have brought about the death of a personage and then differed among yourselves concerning it, and Allah would bring to light that which you concealed. So we said: Test the crucial question by putting together other incidents relating to the affair and you will arrive at the truth.” (The Holy Qur’an: Olive Branch Press; Muhammad Zafrulla Khan: Surah 2:73) The legs of the thieves were broken, not to hasten death, but in order to save their lives: Due to the length of time it normally took for one to die on the cross, and the hour being very late, an action is taken that is not normal at these executions, especially when handled by the Romans. One was given all the time needed to suffer and die, the Romans not necessarily being kind hearted. Pilate, once again acts out of character in granting a petition to the priesthood. “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for the Sabbath day was a high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they be taken away.” (John 19:31 KJV) Taken away still alive? The Gospels do not say! “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus they saw that he was already dead…” (John 19:32-33 RSV) As for Jesus: Another vital point that is brought up by the lateness of the hour is the amazement on the part of the soldiers and Pilate as to how quickly Jesus appears to die. It would be even more surprising to them if Jesus was not beaten senseless and was in complete control of his physical body, his thought, and speech.. Both Luke and John point out these facts. But now we are at the crux of the matter! Which is that the vinegar on the sponge was really a strong drug that only made Jesus look dead, later to be revived: It is essential that the cause of death be remembered, and that the soldiers gave him the draught. We are about to investigate the crucifixion in a manner that no major critic has done and then presented it to the public. We are going to conduct a medical examination of the drugs that were given to Jesus as well as his medical condition when he was taken down from the cross. The Gospels testify to both, as well as to what medical aid was given to him after the fact … Did Jesus die on the cross? … “It was a pious Jewish custom to give a condemned man unmixed wine or wine with an opiate in it…” (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume 7; Page 602-603) Vinegar is thought to refer to sour wine. Wine mixed with gall is an, opiate. All the accounts are bound into one momentary event, though expressed in different manners. Jesus drinks the ‘potion’ and is immediately rendered unconscious. Even in John, the opiate is given and Jesus cries out, losing consciousness at once. All the Gospel stories agree. Here it is necessary to quote the Interpreter’s Bible, once again, but not for scholarship’s sake. Lol … And it continues laboriously for several more pages, ending finally with: Did Jesus die on the cross? No! Then a question must follow. Why is it impossible for man to accept a ‘saved’ Jesus, rather than a ‘crucified’ Jesus? Without the abhorrence of a human sacrifice, without man’s blood lust satisfied, he cannot survive. Paul’s ‘church’ turns to dust. In closing, my only question to the present faith is simple. Why isn’t God enough? Simple, isn’t it?