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Featured Did Jesus commit suicide?

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

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  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    With all due respect, I don't think it is jumping the gun to conclude Jesus disavowed violence.

    As one of the scholars I referenced earlier also notes, the challenge to any hypothesis seeking to qualify Jesus's non-violence "is the lack of any first century sources that unambiguously portray Jesus in a violent manner. There is no question that the overall portrayal of Jesus in the gospels is essentially non-violent. Nowhere does Jesus take up a weapon in order to kill, as rebels did. On the contrary, he advocates nonviolence, even in the face of imperial oppression...Moreover, they align with the non-violent representation of Jesus in all other material" (The Crucifiable Jesus (2019) p.147).

    In this regard, we should consider how Jesus is portrayed in the earliest extra-synoptic material in the remainder of the New Testament. St. Paul's authentic epistles pre-date the composition of the canonical gospels by a number of decades and constitute our earliest source material for Christianity.

    In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us about the exemplary "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1). Paul likewise counsels how followers of Christ - imitating his 'gentleness' - must never "repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all [...] live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:17). In 1 Corinthians, he describes the conduct of people who are "wise in Christ [...] When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly" (1 Corinthians 4:12-13).

    Outside the Pauline corpus, Hebrews 12:3 informs us: "Consider him [Jesus] who endured such hostility against himself from sinners". Here Jesus is described as passively enduring hostility from 'sinners'.

    1 Peter 2:23: "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps [...] When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly".

    Again, the first century community that gave us the letters of Peter had no memory or notion of a 'violent' Jesus but once more a Jesus who patiently endured abuse and never retaliated. This all works to further buttress the numerous occasions in the actual gospels where Jesus is recorded as having advocated nonviolence even in the face of oppression i.e. Mark 14:48; Matt 5:9, 26:52; Matt 5:39-44= Luke 6:29-6:35.
     
  2. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

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    If you read all of the gospels with the intention of reading what you already have faith in you would see them as a holistic gospel speaking one single truth from different perspectives. I understand and I agree.

    But if you read individual Gospels as individual books of historical narration then it would differ vastly.
     
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  3. amatuerscholar

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    I'm going to do two things. First, I'm going to repost my previous post as I don't think you really understood it. I will then explain how it does address what you said.

    Not the same thing though. In order for it to be suicide, one has to intentionally and purposefully take their own life. You can kind of get around this through assisted suicide, where you purposefully and intentionally have someone take your life, but neither of those apply here. First, looking through all the Gospels, we see the Romans taking the life of Jesus. He was crucified, and it was crucifixion that ended his life. He didn't crucify himself, so we can rule out suicide there.

    What we are left with is possibly some form of assisted suicide. In John, we do have Jesus saying that no one can take his life, but he lays it down himself. But lets look at John 10 as a whole. This is unique to John, as it doesn't appear in any of the other Gospels. Matthew 11:27 does relate a bit with Jesus saying that "all things have been delivered to me by my Father: and no one knows the son except the Father...." But that really doesn't match up to the part you quoted. If we look at what the Jesus Seminar has to say about this passage, it's most likely not from Jesus. It most probably is theology being developed by the community that composed the Gospel of John.

    John is most likely taking cues from the Old Testament. In a variety of places in the Hebrew Scriptures, we see the talk of a good shepherd as being a model for the ideal leader. John develops this in verses 1-5, and then interprets in verses 7-18. So the portion you quoted is coming from the end of the interpretation section, that is dealing with the beginning of the chapter. John is really relating an allegory here. If we take this all in context, Jesus is saying he is a good shepherd, but that comes with dangers. At times, you will be in danger as you try to protect your sheep. You will have to get in between danger and your flock. You may get in between a predator and your flock, and have to lay your life down in order to protect them, but that's part of being a good shepherd. And in that sense, you give up your life, no one takes it from you. That's not suicide, it's sacrifice.

    The intention, and purpose is not to die. It's to protect others. Death may come, but that isn't the intention.

    So lets work through this. First, there is reason to ignore the quote as it most likely is not from Jesus, that it is made up later on. So we can say the quote is irrelevant as Jesus never said it, and thus never made any claim that could possibly be misconstrued as to make it think that Jesus was suicidal.

    If we don't ignore the passage, and assume it was said by Jesus, we have to look at it in context. You can't take a verse out of context and then claim it means something. We have to look at the full chapter as Jesus creates an analogy in verse 1-5 and then interprets them in verses 7-18. So you're only quoting from the interpretation part, which is symbolic. More so, we have to realize that Jesus is referencing Hebrew scripture. You can't understand the passage without understanding the reference. The entire passage is talking about an ideal leader, which is symbolized by a shepherd. Jesus even states this in the verses leading up to the text you took out of context.

    So what Jesus is saying, taking all of this in context, is that he is looking to be a great leader, as described by God in the Hebrew scripture. Just like a shepherd will lay down his life for his flock, allowing it to be taken in order to save others, so will Jesus for his flock. For it to be suicide, the death has to be intentional and purposeful. But dying in the line of duty, of being a great leader, is not intentional or purposeful. It's part of being a great leader. It's part of the risk of having a dangerous career.

    So no, it's not suicide in anyway.
     
  4. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    When you start stripping out scriptures and rewriting them - you are treating the original and erroneous, the removed bits in question in error. You don't have to use the term 'false' explicitly, your meaning is clear from how you approach the scriptures. You are modifying your reading of the scriptures to fit a particular world view (without justification) - eisegesis.

    Sure that is one connotation, but that still isn't a knife for sacrificial use. You are inserting that - and doing so despite the fact that it doesn't fit the context of the passage in question. Even if it were intended for meat, it most definitely wasn't for preparing the Passover.

    I'm assuming that the "sacrificial" part of the translation comes from another word describing the knife in question - but correct me if I'm wrong.

    You are the only I've see tried to argue that the swords in question should be interpreted as a ceremonial knife for Passover. It's not, as far as I've seen, a debate among scholars. Indeed, as pointed out, it would make no sense for him to be speaking of a knife for Passover since they had already prepared and were enjoying/had enjoyed the Passover meal by this point. The context is he is warning the disciples to be prepared for what is coming with his crucifixion.

    Agreed

    The primary purpose according to strongs is to stab: máχaira – properly, a slaughter-knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; (figuratively) an instrument for exacting retribution.

    He is telling them to sell their cloak to buy a sword if they don't have one. Since we agree that they would have had knives for food and especially for sacrifices like Passover, he's obviously referring to something else here.

    Jesus had to go with them to fulfill his role. He didn't want Peter or the others to be punished along with him at this point in time - it was their job to carry on his work after his crucifixion and resurrection. You are reading what you want into that passage to reach the conclusion that he was ant any violence whatsoever. Do you think Jesus rejected the legitimate violence done in the OT at God's own instructions? How about the violence done by God and his angels? Of course not. You are jumping to conclusions.
     
  5. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    Even if you approach them as individual historical narrations - they are all describing the same events, with minor discrepancies. Whether approached individually or holistically I think they are consistent on this point, but open to hearing a contradictory exegesis
     
  6. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    I would agree that the desired end result was not death itself, however he had to be willing to die to accomplish it. He was very cognizant of this fact and had to willing choose to die as a means to an end.

    On what basis do you assert such a thing? That's a bold claim. But good for you for finally admitting that you were in fact ignoring this scripture. Now address it.

    If you think there's a larger context here that would meaningfully change our interpretation of what Jesus said, then please go on and explain and justify an alternative interpretation.

    Lolz. Yea, no that's not at all what he is saying in that passage. Nothing in the context of that passage leads us to think that he was merely speaking of being in a risky position. He was adamant that no one takes his life, but that he lays his life down.
     
  7. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    I wouldn't say so.

    Luke 22:36,38 reads:


    36 [Jesus] said to [the disciples], "But now the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag; and the one who has no machaira must sell his cloak and buy one."

    ...

    38 They [the disciples] said, "See, Lord, here are two machaira."
    "It is enough," he replied.

    As I noted in the preceding, the machaira (whilst used for sacrificial slaughter) was also a multi-purpose tool that one could employ to gut a fish or any animal for daily eating purposes.

    Before the machaira is mentioned we see him telling the disciples that they must take first their "purses", second a "bag" and lastly buy a machaira if they don't already have one.

    Obviously, the purse and bag are not intended for violence! So why jump to the conclusion that the 'machaira' is as well, when its part of three things they must have? Rather, as I stated in my previous post: "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".

    I see nothing in the context indicative of violence, only Jesus making sure that they would be prepared to fend for themselves with everything they needed in his absence, of which a machaira knife for animal slaughter was one of them (it's pretty essential unless your a vegetarian!).

    And then the flow of events, in all gospels, ends with Jesus disciplining a disciple (Peter in John) for resorting to force to protect him. We never see Jesus ever using a weapon in violence (he pointedly doesn't defend himself from his abusers during the trial and crucifixion, as all the extra-gospel New Testament sources I cited use as an exemplar) nor do we ever see him approving of his disciples doing so either.

    Also, two small knives are not sufficient for self-defence against armed Temple guards or Roman soldiers: they weren't intended to stave off Jesus's arrest, for the Lord himself condemns their usage for this purpose: "No more of this!" (John 18:10).

    They couldn't have been for an armed rebellion to resist the authorities, because Jesus denounces this purpose in Luke 22:52, as the authorities are in the process of arresting him: "Am I leading a rebellion that you have come with swords and clubs?" The answer is no, as he is seized and led away (v. 54).

    Indeed, Jesus himself affirmed before Pilate this his kingdom is not of this world, hence the reason why his disciples don't fight:


    Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)​


    St. Paul supplements this underlying logic in 2 Corinthians 10: "For," he goes on to say in Verses 3 and 4, "though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly...We destroy arguments". Persuasion, not force.

    Two machaira are not enough to resist arrest, to pull off a revolt of some kind, or to fully protect themselves in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet Jesus said that the two "were enough". So why must we read a violent motive into this, even as Jesus himself actively disciplines the attempted violence of one of his disciples and goes like a "lamb to the slaughter"?

    Jesus died as he had lived and preached: "But I say to you, Do not resist 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). That's the ethic he imbued in his disciples and he gave them the most potent exemplar of it through the manner of his death.
     
    #47 Vouthon, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  8. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    Suicide is a legal term, in which various set criteria have to take place in order for the death to be ruled “suicide.”

    Suicide is a selfish act, #1. Soldiers who shoot them selves commit suicide. Soldiers who throw themselves on grenades to save their comrades do not commit suicide. The impetus is the determining factor, not the result.

    #2, Jesus didn’t “pull the trigger.” Jesus was killed in an act of state terrorism for the crime of insurrection.

    That doesn’t constitute suicide.
     
  9. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Incidentally, the early church fathers also opposed any 'militant' interpretations of this passage (if read to imply that Jesus wanted his disciples to be armed). So it was not understood in this way by the earliest exegetes either.

    Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240):


    "But how will a Christian man go to war? Indeed how will he serve even in peacetime without a sword which the Lord has taken away? For even if soldiers came to John and received advice on how to act, and even if a centurion became a believer, the Lord, in subsequently disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier, no uniform is lawful among us if it is designated for an unlawful action." (Treatise on Idolatry 19; Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:73)​


    St. John Chrysostom (died 407 CE):


    CHURCH FATHERS: Homily 84 on Matthew (Chrysostom)


    Wherefore then did He suffer them to have them [the machaira]? To assure them that He was to be betrayed. Therefore He says unto them, Let him buy a sword, not that they should arm themselves, far from it; but by this, indicating His being betrayed.

    And wherefore does He mention a scrip also? He was teaching them henceforth to be sober, and wakeful, and to use much diligence on their own part. For at the beginning He cherished them (as being inexperienced) with much putting forth of His power but afterwards bringing them forth as young birds out of the nest, He commands them to use their own wings. Then, that they might not suppose that it was for weakness He is letting them alone, in commanding them also to work their part, He reminds them of the former things, saying, When I sent you without purse, lacked ye anything? that by both they might learn His power, both wherein He protected them, and wherein He now leaves them to themselves by degrees.

    But whence were the swords there? They had come forth from the supper, and from the table...

    Christ however suffered not any harm to ensue. For He healed him, and showed forth a great miracle, enough to indicate at once both His forbearance and His power, and the affection and meekness of His disciple. For then he acted from affection, now with dutifulness. For when he heard, Put up your sword into its sheath, John 18:11 he obeyed straightway, and afterwards nowhere does this.

    But another says, that they moreover asked, Shall we smite? Luke 22:49 but that He forbad it, and healed the man, and rebuked His disciple, and threatened, that He might move him to obedience. For all they that take the sword, He said, shall die with the sword.

    St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 375 - 444):


    Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, LFC 43, 48 (1874/1885). Book 11. Vol. 2 pp. 453-588.


    What was it, someone may say, that induced the inspired Evangelist to make mention of this, and point out to us the disciple using a sword, contrary to his wont, against those who came to take Christ, and stirred to a hotter and more precipitate fit of wrath than was meet, and Christ thereupon rebuking him?

    This narrative may, perhaps, seem superfluous; but it is not so. For he has here given us a pattern expressly for our learning; for we shall know, from what took place here, to what lengths our zeal in piety towards Christ may proceed without reproach, and what we may choose to do in conflicts such as this, without stumbling on something displeasing to God.

    For this typical instance forbids us to draw a sword, or lift up stones, against any man, or to strike our adversaries with a stick, when, through our piety towards Christ, we are in conflict with them: for our weapons are not of the flesh, as Paul saith; but we ought rather to treat even our murderers with kindness when occasion precludes our escape. For it is far better for other men to be corrected for their sins against us by Him That judgeth righteously, than that we ourselves should make excuses for our blood-guiltiness, making piety our plea. Besides, we may call it most irrational to honour by the death of our persecutors Him Who, to set men free from death, Himself cheerfully suffered death.

    We find also traces of the same spirit elsewhere recorded by the holy Evangelists. For our Saviour once came to a village bordering on Judaea, to lodge there. It belonged to the Samaritans; and when He was drawing nigh unto it they roughly drove Him away. The disciples were enraged thereat, and came to Him, and said: Lord, wilt Thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? And the Saviour answered them: Let them alone; know ye not that I can beseech My Father, and He shall even now send Me twelve legions of angels? For He came not as God to use His own innate power against those who vented their fury upon Him; but rather to school us to patient forbearance under every affliction, and to be Himself a type of the most perfect and passionless tranquillity. Therefore also He said: Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart...

    The passion of Peter, therefore, was lawful, and accorded with the old enactments; but our Lord Jesus Christ, when He came to give us teaching superior to the Law, and to reform us to His meekness of heart, rebukes those passions which are in accordance with the Law, as incompatible with the perfect accomplishment of true virtue. For perfect virtue consists not in requital of like for like, but is rather seen in perfect forbearance...

    It is likely, too, that the holy disciples, as they were hurrying at midnight from their place of rest, and expected to find woods and gardens in their way, were suspicious of the attacks of wild beasts; for of these Judaea was very fertile.
     
    #49 Vouthon, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    A butcher needs to get his knife into the meat before he divides it. ;)
     
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  11. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

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    One such example is the why have you forsaken me saying and the absence of it.
     
  12. Theo102

    Theo102 Active Member

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    It doesn't make any sense for him to be part of a sacrifice when he had endorsed prophets who had repudiated sacrifice.

    For example:

    But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    Matthew 9:13

    For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of Elohim more than burnt offerings.
    Hosea 6:6
     
  13. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    This is the first time I've heard someone assert that suicide is a legal term. Murder is a legal term, and the definition notes it. I don't see anything in the definition of suicide to suggest it is a legal term. You will need to backup that assertion.

    There's nothing in the definition of suicide to suggest that it need be selfish. Nor in practice do I think suicide is generally a selfish act. It could be done to save someone, as with a soldier who jumps on a grenade, or done out of grief and anguish. Neither strikes me as selfish.

    If Jesus is to be believed then Jesus did pull the trigger. No one took his life - he explicitly and intentionally laid down his own life.
     
    #53 iam1me, Mar 1, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  14. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    And what about the forsaken line do you think contradicts John? These are not mutually exclusive details.
     
  15. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    The disciples clearly thought them swords to be used for violence. Hence a few verses later they take up those same swords to defend themselves.

    Luke 22:49-50 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.​

    Jesus put a stop to this of course, but that doesn't change the fact that the disciples very clearly thought these swords were for defense - not eating.

    You'd additionally need to address all the other places in scripture where the term is appropriately translated as sword and explain why this passage should be the exception. BibleGateway - Keyword Search: sword
     
  16. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

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    As I said if you read them individually you will see the difference in the narrative.
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    You’re not an attorney, are you.

    If you can’t see that suicide is a selfish act, there’s no helping you out here.

    The Roman state killed him. He didn’t nail himself to a cross, nor hoist himself into the air.

    The whole premise of your argument is weak, because it relies on incorrect and unfounded definitions.
     
  18. iam1me

    iam1me Active Member

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    Irrelevant. The onus is on you to show the suicide is a legal term.

    If you can establish that it's part of the definition then provide that definition.

    My argument relies upon Jesus' own words and the standard definition of suicide. You are the one alluding to an unfounded definition that you haven't even provided a reference for.
     
  19. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    You know as well as I do that, when dealing with theological issues, we often must go beyond “textbook definitions,” because we’re dealing with holistic human parameters that include imagination and emotion. Your insistence is like the religious authorities who wanted Jesus to do the same (is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?).

    Here is a link you might find helpful: What is SUICIDE? definition of SUICIDE (Black's Law Dictionary)
    This provides a well-founded legal definition. Here is another: suicide

    Suicide is a selfish act (not included in the definition, because definitions generally don’t deal in emotional judgments, as religious implications must do). Because, spiritually, one’s life is not one’s own. One’s life belongs to God. When one commits (note the operative legal term “commit”) suicide, one steals one’s life from God. Since it is the spiritual nature of human beings to be “pack animals” (per God’s assertion in Genesis that it is not good for us to be alone) — we form emotional relationships and attachments that have a direct bearing upon our well-being and that of others. Since, in suicide, one is thinking of oneself and one’s own emotional well-being, or dealing with shame or guilt in an unhealthy or unrealistic way (i.e. “they’d be better off without me), to take one’s life causes emotional harm to those to whom the perpetrator (note the legal term “perpetrator”) is close. That constitutes a selfish act.

    Suicide is in no way a “heroic” act. it is generally considered to be a highly cowardly act — as a way “out” of having to deal with unpleasant emotional strain. Unless you’re prepared to call Jesus a “coward,” or unless you can show that Jesus just didn’t want to deal with unpleasant emotional strain, or unless you can show that Jesus was mentally unhealthy, or are prepared to make that judgment call, Jesus did not commit suicide by allowing himself to be taken.

    Remember that the Gospels are all written from a position of hindsight, meaning that Jesus “willingly going” may or may not have been the actual case.
     
  20. 74x12

    74x12 Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion ... He didn't commit suicide anymore than a soldier who lays on a grenade to save his friends. Jesus died to save others and we see He looked to find another way (Matthew 26:39) but there was no other way. So, He died as a real hero rather than a suicidal person.
     
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