Friday, 29 March 2013

Jesus died today . . . or did he?

Jesus died this day, one unidentified year, a couple of millennia ago.  It was Good Friday.

Or did he?  I would say "of course not"!

Surprisingly serene - Reni's view of the crucifixion from Wikimedia

Did the crucifixion actually occur?  If (for today) we assume that it did, might it have been on a Thursday instead of Friday?  After all that would be more consistent with the biblical account of him being in the grave for three days and three nights.  Many believe that this fits better with the accounts of the short time that Jesus is supposed to have spent in Jerusalem too . . . as described in the bible.

Of course it would be nice to have some independent, contemporaneous, eye-witness accounts of this important part of history, but oddly enough none are to be found in spite of all the miraculous events that were going on around the city.  Isn't it rather surprising that nobody else mentions the crucifixion darkness, the ripping of the temple veil, and the miraculous resurrection of so many dead bodies.

The gospels aren't exactly clearly about the story either - surprise surprise!  They have a variety of timelines and nobody has yet found a consistent explanation of the accounts of the four canonical gospels as far as I know.  That is, consistent from a rational point of view, at least!

As Christians wallow in the self-pity that they traditionally feel on Good Friday, isn't it time to start to ask whether the story might just be a myth told by members of a cult that only wrote it down many decades later? 

Isn't this just bronze-age scape-goating updated to iron-age myth, or is it something that is actually sensible or useful?

Small point of pedantry: I have always found it surprising that Christianity has an instrument of torture as its primary symbol but it is even stranger to see pictures like the one above where the barbarity and suffering are thinly disguised as something serene and beautiful.

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