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Featured Did Jesus commit suicide?

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by iam1me, Feb 27, 2020.

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  1. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    the difference is in "the giving of life for others" vs suicide which is, by his definition, a simple destruction of life (paraphrased)
     
  2. JesusKnowsYou

    JesusKnowsYou Active Member

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    My understanding is that the Lord Jesus Christ had the ability to die - inherited from His mortal mother - but nothing could kill Him.

    He had "life in Himself" because He had been sired by an Immortal Father.

    Basically - had He wanted to - He could have hung on that cross forever - and not died.

    However - it was His mission to not only die for Mankind - but to be a completely willing sacrifice.

    He had to decide when to die. He had to have all control over His life - or it would not be a willing sacrifice.

    Also - His life needed to be infinite - or it could not answer the ends of the law for all Mankind.
     
  3. Samantha Rinne

    Samantha Rinne Resident Genderfluid Writer/Artist

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    Strictly speaking, it was "suicide by cop."

    He deliberately provoked the Jewish leaders into getting the Romans to arrest him.

    The only difference is that this was a sacrifice, not a suicide.
     
  4. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Depends on the book.
     
  5. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    You are ignoring the relevant scripture I cited in the OP where Christ explicitly says that no one takes his life, but that he lays it down himself of his own volition.
     
  6. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    How so? Are you speaking of scripture or the dictionary?
     
  7. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    A sacrifice and suicide are not mutually exclusive
     
  8. amatuerscholar

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    I didnt ignore it. I spent considerable time explaining it. The entire first part of mypost was dealing with the passag .
     
  9. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn’t call it suicide but the implication implied in the post depends on what which book you read in the New Testament.

    No. Not dictionary.
     
  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    No, I wouldn't describe Jesus's execution by a Roman procurator on the charge of sedition, as satisfying the evidential grounds one normally expects from a case of "suicide".

    He is described as praying for God to let this "cup" pass from him, with tears and anxiety. So he wasn't exactly willing this outcome.

    We have no real way of knowing whether his claimed precognition, or foresight, of his impending death should be viewed as historically true, or rather as part of some elaborate apologetical agenda on the part of the gospel writers.

    I could certainly see the benefit, theologically, of making it look like the incarnate Jesus had omniscience and was ultimately obedient to God the Father's plan of salvation for the human race, from a soteriological perspective intent on stressing his fulfilment of prophecy.

    On the other hand, a few scholars do vouch for the authenticity of his reported prescience about his looming execution, on the basis of the very old roots of the Last Supper tradition (attested to even by St. Paul in Corinthians) which have him speaking about his body and blood soon to be spilt, as well as the need for this communion ritual to be kept in "memory" of him.

    Given credible threats to his life had already come earlier in his career and that - more to the point - his own mentor John the Baptist had had his head decapitated by Herod Antipas, a scholar of such impeccable credentials as Dale Allison has come out in favour of the historicity of Jesus's anticipation of his own death.

    On balance, I think it plausible Jesus likely was aware his controversial message threatened the powers-that-be and thus courted his potential execution for spreading it.

    It was a risk he knew about and took, because he believed what he was doing mattered more than his life. Jesus's remarks about the need for his disciples to "carry their cross" and follow him, are to be understood (in their original context) as meaning that Jesus expected his followers to be willing to give up their lives (get crucified by the Romans) if it came to it. Obviously, if he expected this of his followers he must have already accepted it as probable for himself.

    Moreover, Jesus famously taught an ethic of non-violence or passive resistance: "But I say to you, Do not make use of force against an evil man; but to him who gives you a blow on the right side of your face let the left be turned" (Matthew 5:39)

    To refuse to fight back with violence against those who arrested, tried and executed him, in that context, does not evidence "suicidal" motivation at all but rather points to the necessary culmination of the inherent logic of his own moral teaching.

    He would have been a hypocrite if he had taken efforts to forcibly avoid his own death.
     
    #30 Vouthon, Feb 28, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
  11. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    Read your post several times, you are clearly ignoring how Jesus states that no one else takes his life - but that he lays it down of his own accord.
     
  12. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    The different gospels each tell the store a little differently of course - each emphasizing different points. Do you think them contradictory on this aspect? I would agree that John is the most emphatic on this point, though they all agree that this was Jesus' intended role that he willingly submitted himself to.
     
  13. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    He didn't desire to die as such, but he was willing to die.

    You could start questioning if anything is real or its all an illusion. Obviously we need a meaningful starting point for discussion which is why I posted this under the Biblical Debates section. Of course I'd welcome input from Church Fathers and the like as well to give a proper Catholic/Orthodox answer.

    I'd go further and say that Jesus was openly provocative of the powers that be and of popular thought. At least that is the picture I get reading the Gospels. For instance, his preaching of the Eucharist in John 6 was pretty provocative. An observant Jew would no doubt immediately think of the commandment against consuming blood - an offense punishable via excommunication.

    It seems to me you are cherry-picking which parts of scripture to give weight and arbitrarily tossing out relevant scriptures. Indeed, you are tossing out a core doctrine of Christianity: that Jesus was sent by God to die for us.

    Jesus was, of course, very peaceful and certainly valued peace. However, I would argue against the extreme anti-violence position you posit above (though not a bad thing, and reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr). Jesus preached returning good for evil, and of forgiveness and love for all - even your enemy. That is what he is talking about in Matthew 5. He also ordered the disciples to arm themselves with swords (Luke 22:36). He furthermore states that he didn't come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). He himself whipped people in the temple (John 2:15). Furthermore, he would have known and supported the violence done by God in the OT to protect his people, and of the people protecting themselves and fighting wars that God instructed them to do. So I can't buy into this idea that he was anti any violence.
     
  14. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    No, what I'm doing is approaching the scripture from a strictly secular standpoint rather than a religious one which presupposes the truth of the doctrines.

    This is the only way of impartially appraising all of the evidence and arising at an accurate exegesis.

    In response to your contention that Jesus armed his disciples with swords, this is not what the Greek actually entails.

    The more common meaning of the Greek term μάχαιρα (machaira) is actually "knife" - as in the sacrificial knives they would have been using to celebrate the Passover and prepare the paschal lamb. I'll quote the scholar Professor Paula Fredrikssen on this one:


    "carrying a μάχαιρα was one of the last things that would have gotten a Jewish male arrested at Passover. One man out of every ten-person group (if we can trust the principles of Josephus’s reckoning for Passover) would have done so: 255,600 is the number that he gives for sheep slain, thus for males sacrificing. μάχαιρα in this context does not mean ‘sword’. It means ‘knife’, specifically the large knife used for slaughtering animals in sacrifice. It translates the Hebrew word מאכלת , as at Gen. 22.6 LXX...The point, however, is that the men on the temple mount would have carried their own knives to do the slaughtering.

    If any of Jesus's followers, the night of the meal, indeed carried μάχαιραι as the synoptic evangelists portray, this would align the episode in Gethsemane (Mk 14.47 and parr.) with the preceding story of the disciples’ arrangements for themselves and their teacher ‘to eat the Passover’ (Mk 14. 12-16): they would have come to Jerusalem prepared to offer the corban. So too tens of thousands of other pilgrims would have done. Contending with masses of pilgrims carrying sacrificial knives was part and parcel of dealing with the city at Passover, both for the priests and for the Roman soldiers assisting during the holiday to police the temple precincts...

    What we can know, if we as historians try to imagine ourselves back in Jerusalem at Pesach before the temple’s destruction, is that, in this earlier and specific Jewish context, μάχαιρα meant ‘knife’. Bearing one aligned its owner with the temple’s cult, and with the festival protocols of Leviticus, of Numbers and of Deuteronomy...Carrying a sacrificial knife at such a holiday implies nothing in terms of armed revolt against Rome. In short: the gospels do not present Jesus's disciples as armed.
    " (Paula Fredriksen, ‘Jesus in Jerusalem: Armed and Not Dangerous’ (p.322 - 324))

    It would have been very strange for observant Jewish-males not to have had μάχαιρα on the Passover. According to Josephus, 255,600 machairai were carried by Jewish males to offer paschal sacrifice at the Temple on Passover.

    It does not suggest that the Jesus movement was "militant", indeed Jesus' disavowal of one of his follower's recourse to violence in an attempt to stop him from being arrested is clearly evidenced in all four gospels:

    Matthew 26:52

    Ἀπόστρεψον τὴν μάχαιράν σου εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς, πάντες γὰρ οἱ λαβόντες μάχαιραν ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀπολοῦνται:

    “Put your machaira back in its place; for all who take the machaira will perish by the machaira"


    This is a clear counsel against using the machaira as a weapon of violence in defence of Jesus, because of the cycle of violence that would ensue. Each gospel gives a different response but they all concur in having Jesus condemning the disciple who resorted to force in protecting him i.e.


    Luke 22:49-51

    When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our machaira?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him

    There are many other instances where Jesus restrains the violent impulses of his followers i.e.


    Luke 9:52-55

    "He sent messengers on ahead, who went into a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But the people there refused to welcome Him, because He was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

    But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and He said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy the lives of men, but to save them." And they went on to another village
    "
     
    #34 Vouthon, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Actually, he didn't whip "people".

    Only John depicts him wielding any kind of implement during this episode (the synoptics lack any reference to a whip) and it's very specifically used - as any shepherd at the time would have in his daily herding - to direct the animals out of the Temple courtyard.

    It wasn't a tool of violence or harm towards "people".
     
  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    There is no scholar I know of who interprets this statement in a literal fashion, because the next paragraph goes on to discuss inter-family strife and prioritizing one's commitment to the gospel over patriarchal familial obligations or ties.

    As Professor Brian Pounds has noted in a study out last year: "the portrait of Jesus as a violent rebel is not well received among present day scholars and is an example of the over-extension of the criterion of crucifiability" (p.114). The reason it is 'not well-received' is that: "the ubiquitous portrayal of a non-violent Jesus throughout the gospels in combination with more plausible alternative interpretations of sayings supposed to imply violence outweigh the aforementioned one-sided interpretations of these small number of logia" (p.20).

    He notes more specifically:

    "Two of Jesus’ sayings containing the term “sword” are metaphorical admonitions concerning the division and opposition that following Jesus entails,635 while another clearly admonishes the use of violence: “Those who take up the sword, will die by the sword” (Matt 26:52)."

    The attempt to construe Jesus as anything other than non-violent/non-retaliatory rests upon meagre textual evidence from a few isolated sayings which can more plausibly be interpreted differently and moreover, if not interpreted differently, don't cohere with the far more numerous sayings cautioning against violent reprisal of any kind.
     
    #36 Vouthon, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  17. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    You are presupposing the falsity of selective texts as it suites a secular view. It's not accurate nor exegesis, its eisegesis. Interpreting a religious text from a strictly secular stance is inherently biased and not at all objective.

    Even if we permit that knife be used here - you are going even further and suggesting that it is a sacrificial knife for Passover, which is NOT a standard definition for machaira.


    "machaira is a term used by modern scholars to describe a type of ancient bladed weapon, generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge." (Makhaira - Wikipedia)

    máχaira – properly, a slaughter-knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; (figuratively) an instrument for exacting retribution. (Strong's Greek: 3162. μάχαιρα (machaira) -- a short sword or dagger)​

    More to the point, it doesn't make chronological sense for the μάχαιρα in question to have been for Passover. Jesus tells them to buy μάχαιρα in verse 36, but they had prepared the Passover back in verse 13! Thus the analysis you posit is simply incorrect.

    Rather, the context of verse 36 is that Jesus is going to be crucified and he is telling his disciples to prepare themselves, for he will be numbered among the transgressors. (Thus subsequently Peter runs away and denies the Lord in fear)

    I agree that Jesus' movement wasn't militant in nature. However, not being militant and being completely free of any and all violence are two very different things. You are jumping the gun in a number of ways to reach a predetermined conclusion rather than reading what the text states.
     
    #37 iam1me, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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  18. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    I could buy the analysis that the whip was merely used to drive the cattle out. However, it is simultaneously clear that he was violent with the money changers and those selling things like doves:


    John 2:13-17 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”​

    In v17 the disciples relate his actions back to the verse about how "Zeal for your house will consume me." This was a very passionate moment where he forced people out through whips, through physically assaulting their stalls, and through yelling.
     
  19. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    I'm not suggesting that the sword in question is a literal sword. The meaning is clear, however: he didn't come to bring peace but division and war. No not in the sense of raising an army to wage war, but in that his teachings would cause division between people's and result in such (which is completely consistent with the following verses about prioritizing the faith over family).
     
  20. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    I did not use the term 'false'.

    To be exact, I came down on the side of Jesus's precognition of his own death being historically plausible, after first considering the possibility that it might not be (as a number of scholars do argue, nonetheless).

    Your own reference from Strong's concordance substantiates that a machaira was properly speaking a "slaughter-knife", which is to say a butcher's knife intended for the purpose of slaughtering and cutting up animals for a meal.

    In Homer's Iliad, to take the earliest usage in ancient Greek literature that comes to my mind, it always refers to a domestic, sacrificial knife in the context of ritual slaughter and cooking of an animal. Indeed, at one point during the epic Trygaeus instructs his slave to "take up the sacrificial knife [machaira] and slaughter the sheep like a mageiros" (lines 1016-18), which refers to a professional butcher whose occupation is actually derived from the word machaira.

    In the Book of Revelation, we find verses where the unambiguous rhompaia is used in precise reference to a battle-sword. If the Evangelists had made use of such an unanimously martial word, we wouldn't be having this discussion! The context determines whether machaira might mean something more than its traditional usage and in our situation we have Jews celebrating the Passover (involving ritual slaughter of a lamb) which is akin to its ritualistic deployment in Gen. 22.6 LXX where Abraham is about to slaughter his son Isaac with a sacrificial knife.

    The onus, in this context, is upon the given interpreter to prove the circumstances warrant reading more into the plain meaning of machaira and I honestly don't see persuasive backing for it, because it is logical that the disciples - like every other group of male Jews at that time - would have been in possession of sacrificial knives for the meal (as, indeed, they would have used in their daily travels for gutting fish, since it was a multi-purpose tool) and that Jesus during the Last Supper would have told them to carry such an essential tool with them.

    The primary purpose of a machaira was to "divide", to carve up animals into parts for eating or ritual sacrifice, which makes it ideal for Jesus's metaphor in Matthew 10:35 which is about family division over the truth of the gospel.

    I read Luke 22:35-28 as Jesus simply telling his disciples to be prepared for the journey ahead and take with them their appropriate tools, including the machaira they had just used to prepare the Passover. In each account, a disciple (Peter in John) then wrongfully uses the knife to fight back in protection of Jesus, or indeed cut a man's ear off, to which Jesus subsequently reprimands him by stressing (again) a non-violent approach and putting a stop to any violent means.
     
    #40 Vouthon, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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