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Render to CaesarJesus, the Early Church, and the Roman Superpower$
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Christopher Bryan

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195183344

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195183347.001.0001

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Jesus and Empire

Jesus and Empire

The Crucified

(p.55) 4 Jesus and Empire
Render to Caesar

Christopher Bryan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Jesus suffered crucifixion by the Romans. Is this because he was a rebel against Rome? Not according to the evangelists, who claim that the Sanhedrin under Caiaphas initially arraigned Jesus on a capital charge of blasphemy. References to Jesus’ death in Jewish sources (notably Josephus and the Talmud) also claim primary responsibility for the Jerusalem authorities. Having condemned Jesus, the Sanhedrin referred the case to Pilate, as would be necessary, given Rome’s normal practice of reserving the death penalty to itself. For Pilate’s benefit, the charge was restated in terms of maiestas laesa—high treason. The gospels describe Pilate as initially unconvinced and prepared to deal with Jesus of Nazareth as Albinus would later deal with Jesus ben Hananiah. Then, perhaps because he fears a riot, Pilate is persuaded to apply the death penalty. There is no good reason to doubt the essential truth of this record.

Keywords:   Blasphemy, Caiaphas, Capital charge, Crucifixion, Jesus ben Hananiah, Josephus, Maiestas laesa, Pilate, Rebel, Sanhedrin

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