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Here’s a taste of what you’ll read in that book:
The Gospels differ somewhat on the details of Jesus’ crucifixion — in Mark and Matthew, he is abandoned; in John, his mother and others keep vigil as he dies. In Mark and Matthew, a fellow Jew mockingly offers Jesus some vinegary wine on a sponge; in Luke, Roman soldiers offer the wine; in John, an unspecified “they” offer it.
But in each, Jesus dies. Unequivocally. Even the apocryphal gospels, written in the second and third centuries agree on this:
He died on a cross.
He died at the hands of the Roman Empire.
He died at the provocation of his coreligionists.
And in his death, the disciples’ hopes for a military-general-messiah were dashed. On Good Friday, all they’ve got is a dead messiah. In fact, they likely thought that they had a dead prentender-to-the-throne.
And, just as quickly as Jesus of Nazareth came to Rome’s attention, he was forgotten. Merely a blip on the imperial radar screen.
To his followers, however, his death had become an event of unparalleled importance, due primarily to his resurrection. As reported by three of the four Gospels, Jesus appeared to his followers in the days and weeks following his death, inciting them to interpret his death differently than every other crucifixion they had witnessed. It led them and succeeding generations to reinterpret the words he’d said predicting his death. They began to understand his death cosmically, and theologically.
They began to see his death as an act of God.