Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Goodacre, Cargill and Moss have wrongly advised CNN (Finding Jesus)

The clip from CNN episode 1 is on Goodacre's blog (see http://ntweblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/finding-jesus-season-two.html) :

Character 1. In the bible, Pilate is infamous as the man who tries Jesus.

Character 2.  Pilate is a fascinating character in Christian history.  He does seem tormented about whether or not Jesus is guilty and whether or not he should condemn him.  

Character 3 (Moss). The Pilate of the Gospels is uncertain. He seems deeply concerned with Jesus's innocence.

Character 4.  I have the authority to set you free.

Character 5 (Goodacre).  He's not firm and decisive about what he wants to do.

Character 6.  The discovery of his name in stone was ground breaking. 

Character 7 (Cargill).  The significance of the Pilate Stone is that it actually gives us hard evidence of this central figure from the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  So Pilate really existed and he really was the prefect of Judea.  We actually have a literal touchstone, a point of connection between the between the story of the crucifixion of Jesus from the Bible and actual Roman history.

As camp prefect, he was third in command of a legion based in Caesarea.  He was a long serving veteran, an old hand, of lower status than a tribune (the second in command) or a legate (the legion commander).   He was responsible for training a legion and thus maintained the discipline of the army, like a modern sergeant major.  He was popular, hence the stone. But he had no authority to try Jews elsewhere, or to set them free. That was the responsibility of the king, who at the time was Aristobulus.  The hesitancy of Pilate over the crucifixion of Jesus is a complete fabrication. This was Roman propaganda. Flavian historians wanted people to believe that Romans were in control and all powerful. The discovery of the name of Pilate on a stone found in a theatre in Caesarea is thus not all that remarkable. He was prefect of Judea, merely an army position, not its governor or procurator which would normally fall to a legate. There was no Roman province of Judea led by a Roman governor allocated specifically to the task.  Pilate probably never left Ceasarea.        

Romans were in control but not in the way portrayed in the New Testament or in the record left by Josephus.  At the time Jesus is supposed to have existed, the herodian king, Aristobulus, the son of Herod, was ruling.  There was no break in the herodian dynasty from Herod to Agrippa I.  This is implied by Kokkinos in the Herodian Dynasty.  Kokkinos cannot begin to think that there was a break in the herodian rulers between Herod and Agrippa I. The herodian kings had the power of life and death over their subjects. They were regarded as reliable by Romans, completely capable of ruling their people.  They had their own armies, money, and the respect of the Romans.

The connection between Jesus and Pilate in the New Testament is purely literary.  It was convenient to use Pilate as a symbol of Roman military power.  This would have pleased Josephus's employers, the Flavians.  In Antiquities 18, Pilate is substituted for Caiaphas the leader of the rebel priests.  Josephus, a priest, doesn't want to talk about Caiaphas who was once his leader.  Josephus was an eyewitness alright, not to the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans, but to Nero's defeat of the priests.  The priests had been outcasts from the temple since the time of Judas Maccabeus and their scrolls had been confiscated by successive kings and kept in the Citadel. (See my post on Antiquities 18). Animal sacrifices were abolished by Judas.  There was no altar for burnt offerings.         

Cargill's hard evidence for a link between the "story" of the crucifixion of Jesus from the bible and actual Roman history thus evaporates. Both he and Moss like to cover their backs with words like "story" or "from the bible" or "the Pilate of the gospels". Typically, Goodacre carefully avoids such expressions. Not only have these academics portrayed Pilate as being uncertain, they are uncertain about what they themselves say. They are supposed to be telling us history. Meanwhile they convince the public about what they think is history, when 
if fact the history they convey is a load of tosh.

What they said in the trailers about Herod was unbelievably childish.