Sunday, September 07, 2008


This is a follow-up to the post below where I discussed the general problem of confusing an accusation with proof for the accusation. Mark 14:1, as used by scholars, is a particular example of this. This verse says that "the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him."

Most scholars take it as so obvious that this is a piece of evidence for the guilt of Jewish leaders in Jesus' death that they do not bother to discuss it much. They simply mention it as a piece of evidence in the record. No one takes note of the most important thing you can say about this: Mark 14:1 is not evidence that Jewish leaders did it. It is only evidence that they were accused of doing it. Mark 14:1 does not tell us whether it was true or the result of malicious slander.

The interesting evidence is not Mark 14:1. The really interesting thing is that virtually every single scholar (as far as I can see) fails to properly discuss its significance. That is evidence of a witch trial mentality that will grab hold of any piece of information, no matter how flimsy, tenuous, or inappropriate it is, as long as it makes Jewish leaders look bad. This is the only field that would try to pass off an allegation as proof or part of the proof for the allegation. And who is bothered by this?

No one has ever accused historical Jesus scholarship of intellectual rigor. But you could fairly make a case for its deep-seated prejudice.

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