Armed and Pre-Existent?

Armed and Pre-Existent? September 24, 2014

Simon Joseph, author of The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition, has offered a response to the recent articulation by Dale Martin of the view that Jesus and his followers may have been armed in the garden of Gethsemane. It promises to be the first of a series of posts on this subject. Brian Pound has the first part of his response to Martin in a guest post on the Jesus Blog.

Dustin Smith posted on how Jewish readers might have understood the Gospel of John if they  were familiar with the kind of “notional pre-existence” mentioned in Genesis Rabba, where the patriarchs, the Messiah, and much else “pre-exist” in the mind of God. This too promises to be part of a series.

Christopher Skinner suggested that these are things we’ll want to talk about at SBL in November. And so isn’t it about time to start planning the bibliobloggers’ gathering for this year? What about the evening of Saturday November 22nd?

Finally, here’s a link to a short story, “The Story of Simon,” composed by a blog reader, and taking some inspiration from the suggestion I shared here that John 21 might reflect the kind of story that once appeared as the ending to the Gospel of Mark. (On that topic see my article in The Bible and Interpretation for more details.)

  Armed Jesus

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  • Michael Wilson

    First, I’ve read your notes, love them. I will start working on revising it soon, my new job is murderous and holding me up.

    The article from S Joseph addresses done questions I’ve been asking about Jesus and violence. In my opinion, Jesus was non violent. He was not leading an insurgent army. The message he is reported to have taught would be suicide for an army. I think Reza Aslan may have revived this theory to convince christians that Jesus would have supported Hamas or the PLO.

    Others have suggested Jesus was in fact violent because they assert he believed that when he ushered in the messianic age, he would lead a heavenly army to enact global genocide. His message was nonviolent because he had not got to the jim jones stage of his movement. That is a more likely prospect, and I havent reached a conclusion. How ever I have read a very good commentary on Revelation that suggest its visions of violence reflect a situation where evil eradicates its self with its own inherent violence. The stirrings in the weather and earth are not caused by a God who controls nature like men manipulate tools, but by the elements them selves, material manifestations of fallen angels who, like men, may take action contrary to God’s demand. The battles between demons are expressed in earthquakes, volcanos and tempest. If this was how Jesus imagined the day of the LORD, then Jesus may not have believed that messiah had to physically fight the Beast or demons. I suspect that John of Patmos’ message was much closer to Jesus’s own messsge than most scholars will alow, so it may be s good witness to Jesus apocalyptic veiws.

    Regarding the swords at Jesus arrest, I think that the account could be accurate. I don’t think many of the millitant messiahs we here about went into the endeavour like real revolutionaries. Instead I wonder if their methods, like marching aroud Jerusalem or crossing the Jordan like Joshua are the efforts of desperate charismatic leaders who must now deliver on the expectations they’ve raised. Perhaps Jesus, bring acclaimed by crowds as messiah felt he had to eithier see his movement disband or see the new age dawn. I would not be surprised if many in his entourage interpreted the son of man to be Jesus and the judging angels as they, his folowers armed against Rome like a first century ISIS. Im sure Peter was a late identification for the follower that struck the guard. I would not be surprised Jedus had an armed follower and that their was some violence at the arrest. But Mark does not note the man was healed, and given what we know about physiology, I doubt it would have been. This a pious invention. Perhaps that man was crucified two. Perhapes the thieves on the cross followed Jesus. Or perhaps they escaped along with the rest of the apostles.

    My hypotheses is that Jesus’s view of violence was shaped by the rebellions in Galilee. It has been commented that he and his brothers had nationalist names. A major uprising occurred in Galilee in his youth, and I have wondered how likely it is that his father died in that war or that he participated or witnessed the battles as a boy. I see his message as both anti-Roman, in that it maintains the supremacy of the Jewish God’s kingdom over Rome, yet opposed to the militant schemes of terrorist groups like the Zealots. Jesus messiah doesn’t ask that you kill the occupier but that you carry packs for their occupation forces. You are not to boycott the government’s tax collectors but contribute what they ask. This is anathema to a revolutionary or freedom fighter. Jesus wanted to revitalize Jewish spirituality in a way that could coexist with Roman rule, not fight it, until such time as the world powers destroyed them selves.