Friday, April 3, 2015
On The Crucifixion Of Jesus And Its Historicity (Part 1)
It seems useless, in my opinion, to defend what is almost obvious from a historical-critical point of view, namely this: No one that is building a myth does so by throwing stones against his own roof. That's a Spanish proverb. In other words, you're not going to say something that contradicts yourself. Therefore, the first thing that needs to be said in any discussion like this one should deal with the historicity of the crucifixion.
The truth is I don't know of any serious commentator who denies the historicity of the crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus was terrible for his followers, and it raised countless theological difficulties for them... so many that it forced them to think, and they had to theologically substantiate their feelings with new and sometimes risky exegesis of Scripture. God had hinted to the Jews that any triumphant notion of messianism was a mistake by the chosen people. In the eyes of the vast majority of Jews, this failure of the cross completely invalidated Jesus' messianic claims. But his followers were terribly wrong! Therefore, much explanatory effort argues that this is an incontrovertible fact– that evil that weighed down the followers of Jesus actually occurred, and they had to respond!
Postpaschal Judeo-Christian theology, especially Pauline, struggled with and focused on making sense of what took place on the cross; and they did so by comparing it to the atoning sacrifice (victim = Jesus) and connecting it to a previously mysterious divine will that demanded such a sacrifice. That fact alone seems to make the idea of the crucifixion as a pure invention by the Christian tradition an impossible option. A man named Jesus was actually crucified.