Posted by: aboutalbion | December 16, 2014

Who killed Jesus …?

I recently attended the series of six Cadbury Lectures at Birmingham University.  They were given by Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee) under the overall title “Is the New Testament anti-Jewish?”.

From these very detailed lectures (humorously delivered, I would like to add), the ‘take home’ point for me was her observation in the lecture on the crucifixion in answer to the question, “Who killed Jesus?”.

On the assumption that the New Testament texts are referring to a historical event, she made the point that it was the Roman authorities who killed Jesus.  Crucifixion was the way that the Roman authorities advertised their imperial power.  To the Roman authorities, the sole meaning of crucifixion was ‘this is what happens to troublemakers’.

I appreciated her spelling out the point that follows on from this.  In her view, anyone who finds an alternative meaning in the crucifixion of Jesus – such as, his death was necessary to deal with the ‘sin’ of the human family – must take responsibility for creating (and propagating) this alternative meaning.  In other words, all those who assert that the death of Jesus was necessary become in some sense co-responsible for the senseless crucifixion of Jesus.

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