Why Jesus Was Executed
This study examines Jesus' death from a new perspective: through the eyes of those responsible for the decision to execute him. Key historical questions examined include: which groups or individuals made decisions that resulted in Jesus' execution; what process was...
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This study examines Jesus' death from a new perspective: through the eyes of those responsible for the decision to execute him. Key historical questions examined include: which groups or individuals made decisions that resulted in Jesus' execution; what process was used; why were the followers of Jesus not subjected to the same punishment? It finds answers for these questions in the actions of humans. This study focuses entirely on addressing the event from the perspective of the people who made the decision. The perspective of the prosecution/judge is central, not that of the defence. A number of important points about life in Judea are argued: tolerance of diversity was a normal aspect of Jewish society; capital punishment was limited to inappropriate actions rather than divergent teachings; capital punishment was used for all the guilty, not just leaders; such punishment was exacted without delay; the festivals were a time of celebration, not trouble nor the cause of fear on the part of the authorities. McLaren contends that Jesus' execution was not part of a build up of conflict, nor the result of any notion that he was a self-proclaimed messianic figure. Furthermore, his following was not a reason for the authorities to act, and fear was not a factor in the decision to execute Jesus. Rather, Jesus was a lone criminal, who had crossed a 'line in the sand' when he made a public demonstration in the Temple precinct. It required an immediate and permanent response. From the perspective of the authorities what Jesus did was not part of a larger agenda nor was it associated with any of the subsequent activity of Jesus' followers.
Dr James McLaren is Senior Lecturer, School of Theology, Australian Catholic University, Australia.?
- Prologue; 1. The 'what If' Aspect Of History; 2. Choosing The 'right' Perspective; 3. Identifying The Key Players; 4. Exploring The Key Questions; 5. Jerusalem, Festivals And The Temple; 6. The End: Executing Jesus; 7. The Beginning: Interpreting What Happened; Postscript: The Death Of Jesus And Jewish-christian Relations.