Monday, April 03, 2006

Crucifixion a Hoax?

THis afternoon a gentleman called asking if I had seen the latest issue of Macleans magazine as there was an article he wanted to show me. As I hadn't, he said he would drop it off later.

I wasn't home when he dropped it off so didn't get to talk to him but I suspect this is the story he wanted me to read:

Did Jesus really die on the cross?
In a new book, Michael Baigent, the dean of alternative-Jesus historians, known best for suing Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, calls the Crucifixion an elaborate hoax

Now I have not yet read the article but one of the sidebar quotes I noted while flipping through it claims that Pilate really didn't want Jesus to be killed and so helped in the crucifixion hoax. Oh, I see, so we take the Gospel portrayal of Pilate literally but consider the rest of the story a hoax? Talk about picking and choosing.

The politics of Empire (any empire) would suggest that Pilate would have little concern about executing a troublemaker--in fact those politics suggest that Pilate would almost be required to do so. And really, who is served by creating a crucifixion hoax? The crucifixion appears to have been more than a little bit scandalous and troublesome for the early church (see Paul in the opening of 1 Corinthians). Surely a Messiah who didn't get executed would have been an easier sell.


  1. "Alternative Jesus historians"????

    These guys are not historians. There is no reputable historian, regardless of theological viewpoint, who credits this kind of conspiratorial codswollop!

    You are SO right to be skeptical of these claims.

  2. Hmm. Deja vu all over again: The Passover Plot was a bestseller in the 1950s. It suggested much the same conspiracy, with much the same result. And much the same controversy.

    Pilate and his wife are saints in the Coptic Church, from their having converted to Christianity after the crucifixion and leading exemplary lives.

  3. These days efforts at Christianity debunking seem to be as much a sign of spring as daffodils and Easter eggs.

    One of the sad things is, many journalists/on-air personalities have no theological background, and really have no idea what they're talking about when stories like this come over the wire. This morning one of our local anchors was trying to explain Gnosticism in about 5 seconds in the context of the "Gospel of Judas" story also making the rounds...oy veh.

    Very good point about the scandal and stumbling block of the cross -- yeah, if I were going to embark on a conspiracy to create a new religion, I'd certainly try and work out a more appealing story line for my hero than the one in the Gospels.