By Max Dimont
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Extra resources for Appointment in Jerusalem
There were already over twenty synagogues in Jerusalem fighting the Temple for membership. To understand what happened historically, it is important to place Jesus in the real world. Let us journey beyond theology and see what history has to say about the Jewish Jesus, and recapitulate the events of the fateful days from Palm Sunday to the day of resurrection, which embody the time span of his four predictions. This time, however, let us view these events in situ, to see how they appeared to the people in Jerusalem at the time they happened.
The Romans despised and feared the Christians as subversives. Mark realized it would be dangerous to make the Romans the villains in this drama, and pragmatically chose the Jews for this role. Having rapacious Pilate defend Jesus was a stroke of genius. ” It was such an excellent ploy that each successive evangelist seized upon it, each in turn further embellishing Jewish villainy while extolling Pilate’s saintliness. The problem arises: Why did not the evangelists get their stories straight and compare notes to avoid at least the most embarrassing contradictions?
According to Reimarus, primitive Christianity grew not only out of the teachings of Jesus, but also from subsequent events that added new ideas not contained in his preachings. Baptism and the Last Supper, he said, were not instituted by Jesus but created by the early Church on the basis of its assumptions about him. Placing Jesus in the historical setting, Reimarus essentially came up with three views—Jesus as a Jew, Jesus as a rebel, and the disciples as “plotters” who engineered the resurrection.