Who has the greater sin?

EnochEnoch Shipmate
"Jn 19:11   Jesus answered, “You would have no power at all against me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me to you has greater sin.” this is from WEB version to avoid copyright problems
Listening to the passion narrative being read yesterday, something I've noticed before struck me again. Jesus is answering Pilate. But who is "he who delivered me"?

The obvious answer is Caiaphas and the members of the Sanhedrin who have brought Jesus before Pilate because they want him killed. Another possibility is Judas. Several commentaries refer to this ambiguity. Some say that Caiaphas bears more responsibility than Pilate because he should have known better. Pilate, being merely an ignorant pagan, can't be expected to know what this is all about.

Jesus's previous sentence, though, hints at a possible further ambiguity, something that none of the commentaries seem to mention.

Neither Pilate nor Caiaphas, nor the Sanhedrin have any power unless it was given to them from above. Having been given that power, both Pilate and the members of the Sanhedrin are, of course, personally answerable for how they use it. Augustine takes the line that others also being guilty doesn't let Pilate off,
"And therefore the truth-speaking teacher does not say, “Only the one who delivered me to you has sin,” as if the other had none. Rather, he says that he “has the greater sin,” letting him understand that Pilate himself was not exempt from blame. The sin of the latter is not reduced to nothing because the other sin is greater. "
However, is Jesus hinting that the Father also bears responsibility? By giving free will to human beings, does God share with us some of the responsibility for what we do with it? Jesus knows that he has to be crucified and to die. Is he hinting in the words, "unless it was given to you from above" that God isn't just the only one who can deal with the situation, but that he is bound into how it arose in the first place. Are the late Sydney Carter's words
"It's God they ought to crucify"
hinting at something more profound, challenging and mysterious than we think?

If there's anything in this, does it have any bearing on how we see atonement?
Am I just being over-subtle? Or is this a temptation to heresy - and if so which one?

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Comments

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I have wondered about this too. I've tended to see it as referring to the human powers above Pilate, that the people arresting Jesus and condemning him are acting according to these human authorities, and also that God ultimately allowed them to have this authority. But Judas acts outside of this - he doesn't work for them, he isn't a law enforcer, he has no one giving him orders. He is a friend of Jesus, and chooses to betray him. So I have seen it as about Judas. But I agree it is ambiguous.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    I have always found the apologetics for Roman authorities unseemly in all the Gospels. It strikes me as just plain weird that they go out of their way to suggest that the people who had the power and authority to execute Jesus -- and actually did the execution -- are somehow not the problem here. I guess it is tied up in trying to fit in with the occupying power and not make waves, but it is revolting to read.
  • My assumption is that it's all in light of the destruction of the Temple in 79AD, and that John's gospel account in particular is shaped by that event. The destruction of the temple proves, according to a certain logic I don't share in the slightest, that the Jews were working against God's annoited, and the crucixifiction narrative is shaped as evidence of how they did this. The Romans are still in power at the time, therefore they must continue to enjoy God's favour, therefore they can't have had the determining part in Jesus's fate.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I think you're both being too generous to the Romans. They may not come out of the narrative quite as badly as the leaders of God's chosen people - When the Messiah came along that they were supposed to be waiting for, at best they didn't recognise him, but it's also part of the message that many of them seem to have decided the Messiah was either too unsettling or that they'd rather God sent them a different one.

    But the Romans never come out well. Pilate is expedient. If he thinks Jesus isn't guilty, he's still quite happy to have him flogged before, as well as after, taking his decision. And he bows to demands that he's shown as being aware are wrong. And the various other Romans don't come out well either. Felix hangs onto his prisoner for two years because he hopes he can get a bribe out of him. Festus clearly thinks Paul's appealing to Caesar is a convenient excuse to get him off his patch. And in the immediate post NT era, the Romans executed most of the major players in the NT church. There's no suggestion anywhere that somehow the Roman empire has a noble place in God's plan for the government of mankind or that it somehow rests under God's favour. There's just a slight flavour of 'What do you expect? Why should they know any better?'
  • @Enoch yes, I agree for the most part. However, the gospel formers/writers didn't have the first 300 years of Christian history available at the time of writing. They had, to my mind, a set of eucharistic poems about the crucifixion and the fact of the fall of the Temple, and this is what they ended up with. They had to reconcile several irreconcilables.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    It's a good question and I'd agree with Fineline. The 'handing over' of Jesus to His accusers marks the point in the gospel narratives where Jesus ceases to do things in His ministry and instead things are done to Him which He must suffer.

    The unnamed 'one who delivered me over to you' could apply to either Judas or Caiaphas. Pilate identifies the responsible parties as 'your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me' (John 18: 35). But Jesus specifically refers to 'the one' (John 18: 11). Judas is named three times in John's gospel as being the betrayer of Jesus (John 13: 21-30; 18: 2; 18: 5).

    And what of the responsibility of Pilate? Is Jesus obliquely warning him that he will be guilty of a lesser sin? (John 19: 11). His power from above comes from Caesar but also from God (John 19: 11). Pilate had already received a divine warning from his wife's dream and from his own conscience (Matt 27: 19; Luke 23: 4; 23: 13). He admits that there is no case but gives in to pressure to condemn Him and washes his hands of the responsibility (John 19: 4; Matt 27: 24). So he gets his own line in the Nicene Creed as a result.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I'm personally not being generous to the Romans. Simply stating my interpretation of a text, because I thought that's what you were asking, Enoch. Didn't realise you already had an interpretation in mind.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @fineline I haven't got 'an interpretation'. Obviously guilt is being attributed either to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin or Judas, or both. But scripture, and especially Jesus's words, are often multifaceted and ellipsic. I'm wondering if this exchange is hinting at something even more theologically disturbing than that the guilt lies with those directly involved in the narrative, or whether that is reading a possibility into Jesus's words that just isn't there.

    @ThunderBunk I'm afraid I don't agree with your suggestion that the passion narratives derive from a set of eucharistic poems about the crucifixion and the fall of the Temple. I've not heard that suggestion before. It seems to me to be the wrong way round. It's rather like saying that Jesus was crucified so as to bring us the Mass.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited April 21
    I do think it's Judas, because he has in essence a double sin (or more)--he has not only committed a horrible injustice against Jesus, but he has done it with absolutely no authority to excuse his meddling. Which makes it gratuitous wickedness. Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod--all of these have some tincture of excuse for being involved in the matter (though not for the decisions they take). They are, on some level, authorities who derive their reason-for-being-involved from a legitimate (okay, more or less when we're talking about Caiaphas!) position established by God. (Yes, I'm waffling a bit, I'm aware that the whole legal set-up is whiffy here too.) But Judas has no reason whatsoever to be sticking his oar in. None at all.

    Jesus, being Jesus, is "characteristically elliptical," and does not name Judas (or anybody else). He tends to be that way about situations that are beyond help IMHO. If the evildoers (or potential evildoers) are right in front of him, and might still turn, he is urgent with them, and often very straightforward. But there is nothing to be gained by naming Judas now, and something perhaps to be lost.

    It seems to me that Jesus still does not want to endanger Judas--and humanly speaking, who knows if Pilate--who is clearly casting around for a way, any way, of delaying or avoiding this judgment--who knows if Pilate might not seize on the idea of summoning this new fellow "Judas" as a witness in the case? Which summons would be very unlikely to turn out well for Judas. I suspect that by obscuring his name, Jesus is here literally refusing to turn over his worst enemy to the tender loving clutches of the Romans.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    If you are working in a spirit filled world where there are groupings that are either good or evil then there is a different reading possible. Echoing Jesus's own words of 'the hour of darkness' then the guilt lies with those dark spirits whose hour is then.

    Not sure I accept it but it is a possible reading.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Enoch, are you suggesting that 'he who delivered me to you' may refer to God, and that Jesus is saying that God therefore has the greater sin? That is how I interpreted your initial post. As I said, I interpreted it as referring to Judas, for the reasons I gave. But what do you mean about being generous to the Romans?
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    "From east to west of Christendom
    Proclaim the Gospel news;
    The Roman army murdered God,
    And blamed it on the Jews."
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @fineline I was referring to the two posts immediately above mine, not yours, one by @tclune and to a lesser extent the one by @ThunderBunk.

    Whether one thinks the John who wrote the gospel was the original one or somebody else with the same name, he does appear to have a particularly antipathy for those of his own people who didn't believe in Jesus. They are the bad guys. Those of them who did receive him are the good ones. But I think it's stretching a point to interpret this as whitewashing the Romans, They don't come across well - just perhaps not quite as bad because of ignorance.

    The only people in the passion narrative who come across well who might be Romans are Pilate's wife and the centurion who at the last recognises something* in Jesus. Neither are in John's gospel.

    Thinking about peoples' comments so far, I've realised that in John's account, you could say that even Pilate then spoils it for himself. Jesus having told him that the one who delivered him into Pilate's hand had the greater sin, the next verse says that from then Pilate tried to set Jesus free. However, because the Jewish leaders then suggest that if he lets Jesus go, that makes him no friend of the Emperor back in Rome, Pilate knuckles under.


    * Have other shipmates noticed that because of differences between the grammars of different languages, there's an ambiguity about what the centurion is actually acknowledging.

    In English a noun is preceded with a definite article 'the', an indefinite article 'a', or no article. Greek has a definite article but no indefinite one. Latin has neither. Even languages with articles don't necessarily use them in exactly the same way.

    If you were a centurion who spoke English and you exclaimed "Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew) or “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark) you would have had to have decided, instinctively, subconsciously and without noticing you were doing it, whether to say "was the son of God", "was a son of God" or "was son of God". They don't mean the same thing. "The" = unique. "A" = not necessarily unique. Neither = not terribly good idiomatic English.

    As a centurion, you would presumably have been a pagan. 'Son of God' doesn't have the freight it would have had if you were Jewish.

    If you were a Greek speaking centurion, you could have said, in Greek, that this was "the son of God" or just "son of God", which might have included "a son of God". If you were a Latin speaking centurion, your language didn't even enable you to make that distinction.

    The Greek, in both those gospels, has no definite article. It's 450+ years worth of translators into English who have put it there. The few that have used the possessive case "was God's son" are actually more accurate because they are not taking that decision.

    Luke's version of the centurion's words is different. Luke's centurion exclaims that Jesus was "the righteous/just man". Even more curiously, several translators have rendered that definite article, which is present in the Greek as 'a'.

    I admit that I'm not a linguist. A serious linguist may tell me I'm talking nonsense, but I think this is interesting.
  • @Enoch that sort of question is why, at some point, I will get on with NT Greek, and at least some Latin. I speak Russian, so I know quite a bit about the issues created by an absence of articles. I'm interested in the use of the possessive - does NT Greek not have a genitive case that could have been used? I would generally only use a possessive to replace the use of the genetive in a language that declines properly.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @ThunderBunk Sorry, I was using 'possessive' to mean the genitive case in English as distinct from in other languages.
  • Ah right OK - I was using it to mean using 's vs. using x of y
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited April 21
    If the Centurion spoke in Latin then as that has no articles, definite or otherwise, filius dei could be the son of a god, or a son of a god... It wouldn't be a normal use, I think, for a Pagan Roman to use Deus as a proper name, so a/the son of God is the least likely.

    Lots of assumptions there I'd be the first to admit.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Mark presents his agenda to demonstrate to his readers that Jesus is the Son of God in the very first line of his gospel: 'The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God' (Mark 1: 1). And he continues to develop this argument throughout his gospel narrative.

    The identity of Jesus is attested supernaturally by the voice of God at the Baptism and Transfiguration of Jesus naming Him as 'My Son, the Beloved' (Mark 1: 11; 5: 7). He is also recognised by demons saying to Him: 'You are the Son of God' (Mark 3: 11; 5: 7).

    Peter's Confession of Christ is: 'You are the Messiah' (Mark 8: 29). And this is confirmed by the confession of the Roman centurion at the crucifixion saying: 'Truly, this man was God's son' (Mark 15: 39). In Greek this can be either 'a' or 'the' Son of God. The Gentile centurion represents the final human witness of the true identity of Jesus in Mark's gospel.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited April 21
    Presumably filius dei in a pagan world view could also mean 'a son of a god'.

    The point I'm trying to make @Rublev isn't that the gospel writers weren't saying Jesus is the Son of God. They were saying that and it is fundamental to their message.

    What I'm suggesting is that the centurion might not have been expressing quite the instantaneous full 4th century understanding of the difference between Arianism and Orthodoxy that the English translation of his words would imply.

    I seem to have set off my own tangent from the thread I initiated!
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Mark is presenting an argument throughout his gospel which deliberately leads up to the centurion's conclusion. Peter's confession is the hinge moment of the narrative from which Jesus begins to foretell His death. And the centurion's confession represents the climax of the Passion narrative. The mysterious ending of Mark's gospel then hands over the question of Jesus identity to the reader: Who do you say that I am?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    That's a very interesting idea. Thank you @Rublev. In which case, would the ambiguity created by the absent article be deliberate, like the mysterious ending.

    However, I see Mark's gospel as a chiasmus with the key point being Peter's confession at Mark 8:29 which works like a hinge.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 25
    I see John's gospel very much as reader response with John presenting his readers with different faith responses to Jesus, positive and negative examples of both men and women and the anonymous Beloved Disciple with whom they can identify as the ideal example. But I think he takes this idea from Mark who invents the gospel genre and sets out his agenda to present Jesus as the Son of God from the outset. Peter's recognition of the identity of Jesus provides the understanding from the faithful of Israel and the centurion's response offers the enlightened insight from the Gentile world.

    There is an online article on The Markan Portrayal of Jesus Identity by Chris Keith. He considers that the centurion's response is purposely ambiguous so that he is confessing more than he even knows. He also argues that Jesus' death is where his identity as Messiah is most revealed. So following Peter's confession Jesus immediately defines His status as Messiah in reference to his predicted rejection and death. He claims that humans apprehend Jesus as the Son of God only by viewing the cross. And that Mark's abrupt ending challenges the reader to accomplish what the silent women do not and tell others who Jesus is.

    (Edit to include Link to article [PDF] - Mamacita, Host)
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited April 24
    Rublev wrote: »
    ... There is an online article on The Markan Portrayal of Jesus Identity by Chris Keith. He considers that the centurion's response is purposely ambiguous so that he is confessing more than he even knows. He also argues that Jesus' death is where his identity as Messiah is most revealed. So following Peter's confession Jesus immediately defines His status as Messiah in reference to his predicted rejection and death. He claims that humans apprehend Jesus as the Son of God only by viewing the cross. And that Mark's abrupt ending challenges the reader to accomplish what the silent women do not and tell others who Jesus is.
    @Rublev have you got a link to that? I've tried to search for it without success.

    There might be an interesting parallel between that and John's comment about Caiaphas unintentionally speaking prophetically when he said that it was expedient that one man should die for the people (Jn 11:49-52).

    In one case, the person who is chief priest for the year says something that is more true than he realises. In the other, a gentile, who we'd assume doesn't understand anything at all, unwittingly recognising Jesus for who he is.

    We've got quite a long way from my original question, at the core of which, is whether the God is even stranger than we might think he is.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 24
    If you Google The Markan Portrayal of Jesus' Identity - Pepperdine Digital Commons the article will come up.

    It's interesting that Mark gives the final testimony to a Gentile. I hadn't spotted the parallel with Caiaphas. Perhaps Mark is contrasting two different witnesses for his readers. The gospel writers like to feature insights about Jesus from unlikely candidates, don't they - the Samaritan woman, the Syro Phoenician women, Legion, Dismas, etc.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Rublev thank you for that. It's a good article. Without your extra information, I would never have found it.

    I like the link the writer makes,
    "Just as Jesus defines his status as Messiah in reference to his rejection and death at Caesarea Philippi, the centurion identifies Jesus as Son of God on the same grounds while he stands at the foot of the cross. 'This', the Markan narrator pronounces, 'is how you know that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God'."

    There's another interesting parallel. Peter's confession is structurally fundamental to Mark's gospel, but Mark is also very explicit that having recognised who Jesus is, Peter completely fails to understand what this means. If the ancient tradition is correct that Mark is Peter's gospel, it all becomes particularly poignant. Peter would then be saying 'look, I may have recognised who Jesus was. But at that point, I was still hopelessly and fundamentally wrong. I didn't understand'. Likewise here, the centurion recognises something, but it's ambiguous what he recognises.

    There's another parallel with what strikes me as very much a John idea, that the crucifixion is Jesus's glorification. Even to us, who are supposed to know better, that's a really alien concept. We tend to think that the crucifixion is a terrible even which is a necessary preliminary to Jesus's being glorified. Yet it is that event, which Peter has said must never happen, which draws from the centurion that confession.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    If you Google The Markan Portrayal of Jesus' Identity - Pepperdine Digital Commons the article will come up. <snip>

    @Rublev, I edited your post to include a link to the article. Note the inclusion of "PDF" in which is just a Ship convention to let others know the link will open to a downloading document.

    Here's the link again [PDF], for those of you playing along at home.

    Mamacita, Keryg Host
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Thanks Mamacita for making the link.

    Yes Enoch, as you say, if Mark's gospel is based on the testimony of St Peter then it reflects his great humility in portraying himself as a fallible follower for the encouragement of other fallible followers.

    I was very struck by Keith's point that humans recognise Jesus as the Son of God only by viewing the cross like the centurion. I'm still wondering about that one but you can see it in Jesus' response to Peter's Confession, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper and Emmeus. And as you point out it is reflected in John's theme of glorification in which the cross represents the final sign of revelation.

    Richard Hays makes a similar point in Reading Backwards that the gospel writers read the OT scriptures through the hermeneutic lens of Jesus' words, life, death and resurrection.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    As did Jesus Himself.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, that's what He is doing on the road to Emmeus, isn't it? And Peter takes up the theme in his sermon at Pentecost.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    He did it from before He was 12 too.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Where does Luke say that?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    What, you think He only started thinking about who He was when He was 12? You don't think Mary and Joseph told Him everything? That He didn't have questions regardless as soon as He could talk?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The death of Jesus was foreshadowed in the magi's gift of myrrh at His birth and in Simeon's prophecy at the Presentation. But when did Jesus know it Himself? Surely not as a child. But probably from the start of His ministry. In Mark 2 He refers to the day when the bridegroom will be taken away (Mark 2:20). The beheading of J the B must have brought it home to Him (Mark 6:27). But the first prediction of His death only comes after Peter's confession (Mark 8: 31).
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    One of the many mysteries - in all senses of the word - is what it is like as a baby or a child growing up with two natures. I sometimes wonder if a sense of the strangeness of this is something that underlies much of the debate in the C3-6s about the two natures.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    Indeed, Enoch, and perhaps in some of the noncanonical gospels as well?

    In any case, the conversation has strayed quite a ways from the OP. Perhaps some of these tangents might make good new thread starters.

    Mamacita, Keryg Host

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited April 28
    fineline wrote: »
    Enoch, are you suggesting that 'he who delivered me to you' may refer to God, and that Jesus is saying that God therefore has the greater sin? That is how I interpreted your initial post. ...
    Yes, to response to @Mamacita's reminder to get back to the OP, that is the subversive question that I was hinting at.

    In a way, it's another version of 'who put the serpent in the garden in the first place?' or 'why put a tree which had fruit people weren't supposed to eat, where they could get at it?' or even 'why tell them not to do something which otherwise they might not have thought of doing?'

    God intervenes because we humans, individually and collectively have no power of ourselves to help ourselves. But has that also created not only a debt we owe to him, but one which he owes to us?

    Where does the rift in the lute come from, and what might follow from it?

    Or is even speculating about this a terrible heresy?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Enoch wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    Enoch, are you suggesting that 'he who delivered me to you' may refer to God, and that Jesus is saying that God therefore has the greater sin? That is how I interpreted your initial post. ...
    Yes, to response to @Mamacita's reminder to get back to the OP, that is the subversive question that I was hinting at.

    In a way, it's another version of 'who put the serpent in the garden in the first place?' or 'why put a tree which had fruit people weren't supposed to eat, where they could get at it?' or even 'why tell them not to do something which otherwise they might not have thought of doing?'

    God intervenes because we humans, individually and collectively have no power of ourselves to help ourselves. But has that also created not only a debt we owe to him, but one which he owes to us?

    Where does the rift in the lute come from, and what might follow from it?

    Or is even speculating about this a terrible heresy?

    I thought that's what you were getting at, and I personally don't think wondering such things is heresy, though I'm also not really sure what heresy is. I think if questions come in your mind, suppressing them because they might be seen as heresy is unhealthy. The questions don't go away. And it seems normal for people of faith to sometimes question God's goodness, though it is more usual to see Jesus as never questioning.

    I think in this situation it might be odd if that is what Jesus is saying, because his words seem to be a teaching of others, rather than an interaction with God. Normally, those sorts of thoughts seem to be addressed to God, and in a questioning way, not stated as fact to someone else. And to me, it would seem odd to say God has committed a sin - as surely God is seen as the standard by which sin is defined, so is outside of the law. It would seem more natural to suggest God is evil - as CS Lewis wondered in A Grief Observed. So, this reading that it might refer to God doesn't quite read naturally to me. It would also seem an odd thing to throw into the gospel, given that this account is written up by someone who is surely attempting to put everything together as a coherent whole, and elsewhere is focusing very much on God's love. So I guess for me to consider this idea seriously, I'd need more evidence, more of an argument put forward.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    The death of Jesus was foreshadowed in the magi's gift of myrrh at His birth and in Simeon's prophecy at the Presentation. But when did Jesus know it Himself? Surely not as a child. But probably from the start of His ministry. In Mark 2 He refers to the day when the bridegroom will be taken away (Mark 2:20). The beheading of J the B must have brought it home to Him (Mark 6:27). But the first prediction of His death only comes after Peter's confession (Mark 8: 31).

    So what was His Father's business? What did He know at 12 that astounded the intellectuals?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I think you are right to say that Jesus knew that He was the Son of God at age 12. And it's possible that what may have been going on in this story was His Bar Mitzvah ceremony where a Jewish boy read aloud from the scriptures and was questioned about them. In the case of Jesus He astonished the teachers by His wisdom and insight. His getting lost might be explained by the adult men being separate from the women and children. Mary and Joseph each assumed that Jesus was travelling in the other group following His rite of manhood.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited April 29
    Rublev wrote: »
    I think you are right to say that Jesus knew that He was the Son of God at age 12. And it's possible that what may have been going on in this story was His Bar Mitzvah ceremony where a Jewish boy read aloud from the scriptures and was questioned about them. In the case of Jesus He astonished the teachers by His wisdom and insight. His getting lost might be explained by the adult men being separate from the women and children. Mary and Joseph each assumed that Jesus was travelling in the other group following His rite of manhood.

    A Bar Mitzvah doesn't last three days: After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. He knew.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I think that if a 12 year old boy had told the rabbis in the Temple that He was the Messiah foretold in the scriptures then He would have got escorted off the premises.

    Yes, He amazed them with His understanding of the scriptures. Yes, He knew that God was His Father and He had a special role. But I'm not sure that He understood that His purpose was to die until He was baptised at the start of His ministry and received the Holy Spirit. The Temptations are a test run for the spiritual battlefield of the Passion. And this is when satan proposes to Jesus that He avoids death by seeking angelic intervention.

    However, this could be my cognitive bias and I could be mistaken because God does use children to fulfil His plans. Both Isaac and Ishmael faced death at the hands of their father Abraham and were spared at the last moment. And the sacrifice of Isaac is often seen as an OT image of Christ. The young Samuel was given a terrifying prediction to relay to Eli. And Jeremiah asked God not to commission him as a prophet because he was only a child.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    I think you are right to say that Jesus knew that He was the Son of God at age 12. And it's possible that what may have been going on in this story was His Bar Mitzvah ceremony where a Jewish boy read aloud from the scriptures and was questioned about them.
    Except that Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, including the idea that a boy became accountable for keeping the commandments at age 13, didn’t develop until centuries after Jesus.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    You pays your money and you takes your choice on this one because the origins of the Bar Mitzvah ceremony are quite mysterious. It means 'Son of the Commandment' and it marked the age (13) when a boy became a man and was obligated to observe Jewish law (Pirkei Avot 5:25). They then become responsible for their own actions, put on tefillin for morning prayer, participate in a minyan, read from the Torah and can get married under Jewish law.

    According to the midrash Abraham rejected the idols of his father at the age of 13. His son Ishmael was circumcised at the age of 13 (Gen 17: 25). And Rashi claimed that the obligation of Bar Mitzvah was given to Moses at Sinai in the oral law.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    And Rashi lived 1,000 years after Jesus, so approximately 2,500 years (if my translation from Anno Mundi to Anno Domini is right) after Moses was believed to have lived.

    Yes, the oral tradition is that the obligation (which is different from the ceremony) of Bar Mitzvah goes back to Moses. There is, however, no mention of it in Scripture, and as I understand it there is no historical record of the obligation for a 13-year-old boy to keep the law until the Mishnah, which includes Pirkei Avot and which dates to around 200 C.E. in its earliest written form. The ceremony now associated with the Bar Mitzvah appear to have developed in the Middle Ages.

    Given all of that, it seems a real stretch to say that what was happening in the Temple may have been Jesus's Bar Mitzvah ceremony—especially since Luke is clear that Jesus was 12, not 13.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, it may be a bit of a stretch to read it as Jesus' Bar Mitzvah, but perhaps not as His coming of age as an adult. There isn't a specific reference in the Torah or the Talmud to a Bar Mitzvah ceremony, there is only the reference to the obligation to observe the mitzvot at age 13 in Pirkei Avot in C3 AD. But there must have been a point when a Jewish boy came of age in Jesus' society and followed the requirements of the Law. The Romans held a ceremony of manhood for boys at the age of 14 when they put on a white toga and added their names to the register of citizens (Persius, Satires 5: 30-35).

    The nearly infallible William Barclay reads this story as Jesus attending Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover for the first time after legally taking on the adult obligations of the Jewish law. And he considers that this is when Jesus first recognised His identity as the Son of God.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    So Mary hadn't told Him what Gabriel said nearly 14 years before?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    According to Luke, 'Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart' (Luke 2: 19; 2: 51).
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Now I am curious whether Mary talked to Jesus about it. I never thought of that before. Surely the fact that she treasured these words and pondered them in her heart doesn't necessarily mean never mentioning them to her son. Pondering and sharing aren't mutually exclusive.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited May 3
    Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1: 32). Simeon warns her that He would be a sign that was opposed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too (Luke 2: 34-35). The doctors of the Temple were amazed at His understanding (Luke 2: 47). At the age of 12 Jesus knew that God was His Father (Luke 2: 49). But how much would you reveal to your own child about their mysterious destiny? Did Mary know that He was going to die?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Rublev wrote: »
    But how much would you reveal to your own child about their mysterious destiny?

    I don't know. I am not a mother, and even if I was, my child wouldn't be Jesus. And even if I knew what I would do, I don't know what Mary would do. She and I are two different people, living in different times and different cultures.

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