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Jesus among the Wolves: Roman, Herodian, and Priestly Power

Video from Wrestling With God

Jesus among the Wolves

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils." Matthew 10:16-17 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the empire of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” The Gospel of Mark At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. The Gospel of Luke In what we would deem their civic responsibilities, the Sadducees represented the state in international negotiations, collected taxes, equipped and led armies, and served as judges in domestic law courts. With the Roman conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey the Great (106-48 BCE) in 63 BCE, the Sadducees worked in concert with both magistrates of the Roman government and the local Roman client-kings, the Herodians. What concerned the Sadducees the most was never allowing Rome an excuse to close the Temple. This provided oppositional criticism by other Jewish sects that the Sadducees were collaborators with the enemy. The template for the view that the Sadducees were corrupt officials of the Temple stems from the scene known as the Temple Incident in Mark's gospel. Jesus drove out the animal-sellers and overturned the tables of the money-changers, citing a combined quote from Isaiah and Jeremiah: "Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?' But you have made it a 'den of robbers'" (Mark 11:17).

All ancient people charged a fee for sacrificial animals. Where this temple differed from others was the presence of the money-changers. Jews banned images, but coins carried in purses had images of the Roman emperor and sometimes gods. A fee was charged for this exchange. In The Antiquities of the Jews (Book 20, 9.1), Josephus told the story of the stoning of James, the brother of Jesus. The high priest Ananus ben Ananus ordered his death for violations of Mosaic Law, but without detail. He lost his position because he had acted before the arrival of the new Roman procurator. A little over 2,000 years ago, the story of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, son of a carpenter and stone mason, begins in a tiny village in the hills of the Galilee. Some 30 years later, in Jerusalem, his life ends and the story of Christianity unfolds. Little is known from the Gospels about the man himself until he steps onto the scene as a popular preacher who captures the imagination of the crowds. A man, first celebrated and adored, who experiences the ultimate downfall in the course of only six days during the Passover holidays, tossed around like a pawn in a chess game. From Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, through to his eventual crucifixion six days later, the key moments have been immortalized in countless films, pieces of music, and works of art. Explore how dramatic political events in Rome could have played a crucial role in shaping Jesus’ destiny, and examines an extraordinary political alliance that altered the course of history. The key moments in Jesus' life have been immortalized in countless films, music, and works of art. However, in recent years, some historians have begun to question inconsistencies in the Gospels’ version of events. They believe that the Gospels could hide a very different story; one that casts the historical Jesus in an entirely new light. "Last Days of Jesus" peels back thousands of years of tradition, exploring a new political context to the events in Jerusalem. Searching for the Historical Jesus buried under the pile of debris of human history, human error, hopes, fears, interpretation, death, myth and accident can make one think of the quote by Lewis Browne - "Someone has said that a philosopher looking for the ultimate truth is like a blind man on a dark night searching in a subterranean cave for a black cat that is not there. Those Gnostics, however, were theologians rather than philosophers, and so—they found the cat!" from video introduction

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