posted on Apr, 15 2006 @ 11:30 AM
I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble. This is the season of the central theme of Christianity. The Resurrection. Which I regret to remind, is all
about the individual’s salvation. A somewhat selfish motivation. But, because it is that season, it brings to my mind lingering questions.
Some things in the Bible are surely beyond belief, at least to people in 2006. The most unlikely story, to me, is that of the possessed man, Legion.
It is found in all three Synoptic Gospels, but I refer you to Mark, Chapter 5. Mark is generally acknowledged to be the first of the 4 gospels to be
written - 55 to 60 CE - and Mark was copied nearly verbatim into both Matthew and Luke.
I do not know who put the books of the Bible in the order we have today. The first collection of the Holy books we call the Holy Bible was an early
4th century project ordered by Emperor Constantine. Orthodoxy was his middle name. Constantine wanted 50 copies made and would put one in each of the
50 churches he built (or remodeled) in his newly renamed capital, Constantinople.
Unfortunately for historians, all 50 copies have been lost in antiquity, as well as any listing of just which books were in those Bibles. It was, by
the by, almost certain that the Book of Revelations was not in that very first edition of the Bible. I say that because the contract for the 50
copies was already let before the issue of what to do about Revelations was decided.
The swine story. One day, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encountered a man possessed with demons. The man asked Jesus for help in ridding
him of a multitude of demons, which Jesus consented to do. Jesus removed the demons from Legion and put them into a nearby herd of swine, grazing in a
field. Then, without further explanation, the herd of swine ran themselves over a bluff - a cliff - and fell into the Sea and drowned. Ipso facto, the
demons are gone! Legion is a free man.
The ancient and fearful concept of demonology was laid to rest by reason and scientific method as employed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) but I admit,
it dies slowly. By the late 1890s, Carl Jung, Freud’s contemporary, had added breadth if not depth to Freud’s psychoanalytical theories. Many
others have followed behind Freud until today modern psychology is taught in every school in the western world. No serious person in 2006 entertains
any longer the notion of demon possession. But I digress.
I hold to the position the story of the demonized pigs is apocryphal. I don’t think anyone living in the First Century would have thought it was
literal. Everyone who heard the story then knew and understood what it meant and the implications contained in the story. Literalism did not mature
as religious dogma until well into the second millennia. I also suggest the fact that it was a herd of pigs is of significance and embodies some
meaning “hidden” from me, a Gentile Protestant. Two strikes! I do not have a theory on that. Half in jest, I do ask today’s literalists why
born again Christian psychiatrists do not stock pigs in their offices. Or do they?
Jesus was crucified yesterday, for some convoluted reasoning it came to be called “Good Friday.” According to an Old Testament prophecy (Hebrew
Bible), the savior of Israel would rise from the dead on the 3rd day. That Sunday is the 2nd day has never slowed true believers. Technicalities
don’t count when you’re painting the big picture.
Judea, part of what was later called Palestine, was under Roman rule. The issue of life and death was under Roman jurisdiction. Exclusively. This
problem has also vexed later story tellers who needed to have the Jewish high priest issue the death sentence on Jesus to fulfill prophecy. The
solution? Jewish leaders alleged Jesus was a potential threat to the Roman ruler, and on that basis, the Romans performed the crucifixion on Jesus.
It’s as if the Romans were tricked by the Jewish leaders. Hmm? The Romans sentenced most minor miscreants to 20 years on the oars of a Roman galley.
Romans did not waste good, cheap labor.
Lastly. Why did the Jewish high priest fear Jesus so much? Or, why did the Romans fear him? Recapitulate. Jesus had summarized his teachings in the
Sermon on the Mount. Surely there was nothing in that pronouncement that merited the death sentence? In another place, Jesus said there were just 2,
not 10, commandments that really counted, day to day. 1) Love God and 2) love your neighbor. What is treasonous about this? Where is the seditious
speech? Even hard core atheists would just ignore Jesus. None of this would arouse the public officials - Roman or Jewish - to the point of murder.
So here is another gap that calls out for an explanation. But for which there is none offered.
I offer. In 167 BCE, a high priest of Israel, Mattathias, started a revolt against the ruling Selucids. He fled into the wilderness, and after his
death, his son, Judas Maccabaeus, continued the revolt which ended in about 162 BCE. One of the more notable acts performed by Judas M. was the
cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. This revolt is celebrated today by Jewish persons in the Hanukkah Festival.
The Roman occupation of Judea was uneasy. Fiercely religious, the Judeans resisted every act of the Romans and hated the Jewish collaborators, most
especially the High Priest. Indeed, one band of resistors was known as the Zealots. One of their number became a member of Jesus’ inner circle. The
Zealots were best known for murdering Jewish collaborators much as the insurgents are doing today in Iraq.
I contend that the “feeding” of the 3,000 or 5,000 in the desert nearby to Jerusalem, was instead a fuzzy memory or disguised reference on the
writer’s part of the time when Jesus made his grand move to liberate the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
A small army - a reinforced brigade today - lying in wait just outside the Jerusalem city gates at feast time, to be called into action when the
commando raid on the Temple was successful. Jesus and a small band of 10 or 12 infiltrated the Temple grounds, and on Jesus signal - the overturing of
the money changers tables - were to capture the Temple.
On this success, the rebel army would rush into Jerusalem, overpower the Romans, and rejoice in the fulfillment of various Old Testament prophecies.
Unfortunately for Jesus, (but fortunately for the billions of followers to come later), the Temple Guards proved too robust for Jesus’ small band.
Defeated at the Temple, Jesus fled to a rendevous known to us today as the Garden of Gethsemane. He waited for his band to regroup. Judas, who it
turned out, had been a paid Roman informant, gave away the failed plot and the Romans captured Jesus and others. This was indeed a crucifying offense!
Last. Simon bar Kochva led yet another Jewish revolt. In 132 CE and running for 3 years. Simon was at first highly successful and was regarded by many
of the Jewish inhabitants of Judea - by then known as Palestine and Jerusalem had been renamed Capitolina - as the long promised Messiah. The bar
Kochva revolt is usually described as the Second Jewish Revolt. It is sometimes called the Third Revolt, when the riots of 115-117 CE are called the
Those earlier disturbances did not reach the level of the bar Kochva revolt. In this instance, money was actually minted bearing Simon’s image. For
the first year or two, many Jews hailed Simon bar Kochva as the TRUE messiah. There is however, no mention of Jesus in any of the surviving writings.
So this is my take.
[edit on 4/15/2006 by donwhite]