Wednesday, February 25, 2015
[Links to my books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble are at the right. True Jew is the more recent and shorter one.]
Honestly, I don’t think there has ever been a quest for the historical Jesus. Not if by quest, you mean what any genuine science is about—an effort to discover, uncover, reveal. The so-called search for the historical Jesus has always been about concealing, covering, covering up, burying out of sight. When scholars in the 19th century first started this academic discipline, they were frightened that a historical, Jewish Jesus might actually be found. That could not be allowed to happen.
Antisemitism was percolating to fever pitch in the 19th century. A Jewish Jesus was the last thing anyone could stomach. That’s why Albert Schweitzer would remove Jesus from history entirely. Jesus had no historical, Jewish context, according to Schweitzer. He was outside history. He had a totally unique persona and perspective. That is really a religious point of view disguised as faux or pseudo-historical study.
Schweitzer could actually declare that to compare Jesus to his contemporary Jewish (or rabbinic) culture was lacking in common sense. Now that is the very opposite of good historical research. It was a blatant attempt to block historical study. It worked and it has worked ever since. “Historical” study of Jesus has always been about spinning religious or ideological views in new ways, not about searching for clues that will reveal.
And, of course, the perfect decoy system is the one in which you’ve convinced yourself and everyone else that you’re looking, when every look has been nothing but shutting down avenues of sight.
How many scholars have read Josephus? A lot, right? Probably all of them. But does anyone pay attention to what they read? Do they see what Josephus reported? Do they look for the clues that will reveal? It seems rather that concealment is all they’re interested in.
Josephus gives no examples of Jewish leaders helping Rome to arrest and prosecute Jewish troublemakers. But he does give one example of Jewish leaders refusing such help and several other clues implying they would never cooperate with Rome like that. How hard is it to see that, if you are really looking? No, really, how hard is that? No scholar sees this, yet they claim to be looking and searching.
Josephus gives a few examples of high priests tearing their robes and/or pouring ashes on their heads as they plead with a mob to change their course of action. It was an act of begging, not condemnation, something to be borne in mind when considering what happened between the high priest and Jesus. It certainly would not be used at a trial. Show me the scholars that see this and accurately report it. They prefer to spin the same old traditional story of Jewish leaders persecuting and condemning Jesus. They call this spinning looking. And they’re serious.
© 2015 Leon Zitzer