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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 28, 2005

Jesus (undergraduate essay style)

You may remember that I've just finished reading the penguin translation of Josephus' Jewish Wars.

It documents the attempts of the Roman militia to subdue the Jews from the time of the emperor Nero (is it earlier than this? It must be but I can't remember direct mention of earlier emperors) through to Vespasian (The action ends in around 70 AD).

One of the more interesting accounts is the capture of the hill fort at Masada. This takes place at the very end of the book. The fort was basically impregnable, with its own wells, food supply, and heavy fortifications at the top of a ravine that surrounded the fort on three sides with sheer drops of several hundred feet.

The romans simply piled up rubble at the side, built a road of stone up to the top, used a battering ram to knock a hole in the outer wall, then set fire to the inner wall (made of wood and earth). When the roman's finally broke through the following day they found the entire population dead as a result of a suicide pact.

Nearly a thousand of them: children, women, and the men.

It was said that one woman survived, by hiding in caves during the mass suicide, to tell the tale. Each man had killed his own wife and children, before being killed by one of 10 other men. The 10 men who remained then drew lots to see which of them would kill the other 9 before finally killing himself.

This, apparently, was to enable them to retain their dignity, and, practically, to prevent the children being sold into slavery and the women being raped. The men would have been killed by the romans anyway so for them it was a "no brainer".

One of the things that particularly struck me throughout the whole thing is that in this translation there is nothing about Jesus. Certainly a lot of the narrative is contemporary with the supposed life of Jesus, and yet there is nothing. Strikes me as odd since he was supposedly a bit of a bad ass trouble maker.

Apparently, according to an appendix in this translation, there was an alternative manuscript found, written in Slovenian, that mentions certain things pertaining to the early christian church, but these are not thought to be authentic: they're thought to be added later by interested others.

Last night I watched a program on TV called Digging for Jesus. It was very much a yes-we-have-no-bananas sort of affair but reasonably interesting nevertheless.

The conclusion was that although the archaeological evidence is consistent with the accounts of the New Testament, there is no hard evidence for Jesus whatsoever. That's hardly a surprise is it? It mentioned that the relics are actually very much dependant on a huge act of faith for their religious value rather than actual history.

It conceded that Pontius Pilate was a roman governor in Judea during the rule of the emperor Tiberius. I'm sure Pilate is mentioned in The Jewish Wars, so again that pre-dates Nero. In fact I'm sure it was the mention of Pilate that made me think "wot no Jesus?" in the first place.

One thing I did learn is that the "Bet" prefix in biblical place names (e.g Bethlehem) is equivalent to our "ham" suffix (e.g Nottingham). It means a farmstead.

On a very tenuously related note I was surprised that in most European countries it is a criminal offense to deny the existance of the holocaust. The UK is an exception although there is strong lobbying in favour of compliance.

What a very strange law. It seems like a law forbidding gay men from being attracted to other men. And how could you enforce it? Maybe I'm missing the point. I would have thought that anyone who seriously tried to deny the holocaust would be laughed out of the door anyhow.

1 Comments:

  • It may be so when you're Joe Idiot who works on the buses, but not necessarily when you're the president of Iran.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 1:46 am  

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