Freethought Archives > G W Foote & J M Wheeler > The Jewish Life of Christ



[28:1] Compare John v., 41.

[28:2] Jesus equals and exceeds this presumption. See Matthew xix., 28.

[28:3] A remarkably similar passage occurs in John vii., 8-10. Acording to this Gospel, although it is not mentioned by either of the others, Jesus sends his brethren up to Jerusalem, and remains behind in Galilee himself, because his "time was not yet come." But as soon as they are gone, he follows them "not openly, but, as it were, in secret"

[29:4] See Luke xxii., 1. " Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover."

[29:5] Jesus also must have had a large following, probably consisting for the most part of fanatical Galileans. They doubtless assisted him in clearing the precincts of the Temple, and they were dreaded by the high priests who seized him suddenly by night, "for they feared the people."

[29:6] Jeshu's disciples only leave him when they see that further resistance to the authorities is useless.

[30:7] The scourging, the crown of thorns, the mocking, and the vinegar for drink, are such familiar features of our Gospel story that it is unnecessary to cite particular texts. Jeshu's exclamation is also exactly the same as that of Jesus. It is the first verse of the twenty-second Psalm--Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani--"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

[30:8] Isaiah liii., 5. This misinterpreted prophecy of the suffering Messiah has largely contributed to the Christian doctrine of the atonement. Matthew (xxvi., 28) makes Jesus say at the last supper, "this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

[30:9] Jeshu's trial and sentence are strictly according to Jewish law and practice, while that of Jesus outrages it in every particular. Rabbi Wise, in his "Martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth" (p. 66), has the following trenchant remarks on this subject: "The whole trial, from the beginning to the end, is contrary to Jewish law and custom as in force at the time of Jesus. No court of justice with jurisdiction in penal cases could or ever did hold its session in the place of the high priest. There were three legal bodies in Jerusalem to decide penal cases: the great Sanhedrim of seventy-one members, and the two minor Sanhedrim, each of twenty-three members. The court of priests had no penal jurisdiction except in the affairs of the temple service, and then over priests and Levites only."

[30:1] This agrees with John, but not with Matthew, Mark and Luke, who all represent Jesus as having already eaten of the Passover. The fourth Gospel is a later production, and its author had an opportunity to correct silently some of his predecessors' mistakes. Rabbi Wise, in his "Origin of Christianity" (p. 30), writes: "In the first place the Jews did no public business on that day; had no court sessions, no trials, and certainly no executions on any Sabbath or feast day. And in the second place, the first day of the Passover never was on a Friday, and never can be, according to the established principles of the Jewish calendar." These statements, which could be amply justified by Biblical and Talmudic references, put Matthew, Mark and Luke out of court; for they clearly assert that Jesus was crucified on the first day of the Passover. Rabbi Wise sensibly concludes that they "adopted the first day of the Passover because they taught the dogma that Jesus died to redeem all sinners. The fact concerning the day was shaped to suit the dogma. Israel was redeemed from Egyptian bondage on the day celebrated ever after that event as the feast of the Passover; therefore the death of Jesus, the second redemption, must have taken place on the self-same day … But this is impossible."

[31:2] The punishment for blasphemy is prescribed in Leviticus xxiv., 16, and that for perverting to the worship of false gods in Deuteronomy xiii., 10. Stoning was the method of execution in both cases. Jeshu therefore died according to the Jewish law. The subsequent hanging was perhaps equivalent to the exposure of traitors' heads on Temple Bar. Jesus, according to our Gospels, was crucified; but there was a diversity of opinion on this point among the early Christians. Paul preached "Christ and him crucified," but his great rival Peter, in Acts v., 30, speaks of "Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree," and again in Acts x., 33 "whom they slew and hanged on a tree." Peter further says (xii., 29) "they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre;" and again in his first Epistle, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." When Peter and Paul differ as to the execution of Jesus, it is not difficult to decide which should be believed. Peter had, as Paul had not, the advantage of being present. Peter does, indeed, refer twice in Acts ii. to Jesus as "crucified," but it is in a long speech which was probably composed for him by the author. In any case, these references do not destroy the force of his frequent allusions to "hanging." Paul himself, too, in Galatians iii., 13, appears to side for once with Peter. "Christ," he says, "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." On the whole it is not improbable that Jeshu and Jesus died the same death.

[31:3] Deut. xxi., 22-3. Jeshu's enchantment of the wood appears a masterly stroke of anticipation.

[32:4] It must have been an immense cabbage. Perhaps it was a Jerusalem artichoke. The anonymous Jew, who translated the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu for Richard Carlile, says the plant was a small species of palm tree.

[32:5] Compare Matthew xxviii., 6.

[33:6] An analogous story is found in Matthew xxviii., 11-16. But Matthew's story is incredibly absurd.

[33:7] This is perhaps a later addition. It is no part of the story, but merely a speculation of the author. As a matter of fact, he was mistaken; for the tonsure was in use among Buddhist monks before the Christian era; Guatama himself being represented as performing the ceremony, on his son Rahula.

Return to Chapter III.


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