My side of a conversation with Brian Macfadyen on Youtube policies, royalties and economic good sense

If corporations and artists are flat out blocking a film or music video, it’s censorship. There has to be an exponential royalty system, where people who are providing legitimate serious content are getting close to a similar royalty as the music they sample
and those who simply put a picture of a pumpkin and let it be end up with tiniest fraction of that royalty, i think free market compensates for that though because if there is a good music video someone will watch it, and if there is a crappy one they wont, when both are costing the same…
and for artists who dont “make music videos” they might have an economic incentive to use a blog or something bandcamp kind of thing where they can isolate their customer base and force out the competition,if they have a natural monopoly on their sound, that is talent sometimes, cartel economics might be more useful for that particular group.

Easiest way to remember Electromagnetic radiation energy levels!

In order to remember the EMR (electromagnetic radiation) spectrum there is a joke. I thought it up while studying for my chemistry exam and thinking about the beginning of each part.
A hippie walks into a fun house and says: “GrUVI MiRa”
The order of electromagnetic radiation according to energy levels is Gamma Rays, Ultra Violet light, Visible light, Infrared light, Microwave light, and Radio waves
I hope this helps someone studying for an exam!

Frances with Ha-ha, but where is the boohoo? Or goosepimples?

Paul Andreas Fischer

Frances with Ha-ha, but where is the boohoo? Or goosepimples?

My expectations were surpassed in the film Frances Ha. The use of sitcom like interpersonal relations as a facade to entice the viewers into struggling with greater life phenomena regarding sexuality and human interaction was staggering. While at first impression the cast was amateur and the story tangled, the mastery of cinematic devices to captivate the audience, gave the distinct and lasting impression of an important message, if only the viewer could decrypt what that message was. Ultimately due to the exposure of intimate details of personal lives in a certain manner, the conclusion is drawn that the statement is on the society that nurtured, created and maintains the girl; that America is a materialistic society unbound by substantive difficulty.
The cast takes on an almost neorealist situative commentary on the life of a young woman who has exactly what she needs to prosper, and yet there is a tragic underpinning to her interactions with those around her and to her self-communication. The nature of this tragedy is surreal; her being “undatable” as described by her roommate forces her to re-evaluate her own sexuality and in turn the film scrutinizes the gender performance of those around her. But the vehicle has a distinctly neo-realist quality, one that extends beyond the black-and-white empirical nature of the roll and seems to seek truth in setting while imparting an urgent and necessary message of understanding in character development.
Perhaps the most memorable moment in the film is as Frances lights a cigarette against an apparently clear sky and in the unique blustering winds as the music rises in excitement, in tempo and volume. With a triumphant and yet demarked step she lurches out of the way and the Eiffel tower is revealed: she has made it to Paris! While she does not succeed in resolving her social problems at this point, a certain turning point in the film has been reached.
The completion of the film was ill conceived, while appropriately happy and still comically contemplative, this picture of her resolutely, gleeful but still troubled, stepping away from the Eiffel tower smouldering cigarette in hand would have made a classic ending, given the appropriate cinematography and character development beforehand. Where the Italian Neo-realism film movement consisted of perhaps a dozen films, and spawned many more similarly related movements since then, each showing devastation on a scale not available to any individual studio or entity, it was reality, in a similar track Frances Ha shows true beauty and strength in the setting and the characters, a sense of contentment and placidity, struggle logically met with triumph, that reflects the fundamental change in the European outlook in the times since.
Part of what makes this such a strong emotive response to the film was the use of real world settings, and more apparently of real world characters. As close as the cinematography and music came to capturing the legendary psychological effects of the neorealist cinema, though lacking the goosepimples and teary eyes that accompany the tragic suicides and deaths of protagonists in neorealism, the character development and plot progression was decentralised in a most similar manner to Soviet era films.
One in particular comes to mind, the film Daisies, in which two cohabiting girls or sisters perhaps explore their own temporal existence, stagnant lifestyles, and ultimately harsh realities in Yugoslavia, then a satellite of the Soviet Union. In both films there is an intense struggle occurring in the plot with a status quo of intolerance and with incompatibility to the social norms extant. Then in a variety of settings these norms and intolerance are torn apart without apparent consequence. While the themes of love and friendship are certainly more classically epic in Frances Ha (this is not said as a very positive statement), there is a shared dipolar structure to the films in which independent theses are tested on two protagonist characters through interaction of a number of people less important to the themes and plot.
What makes Daisies perhaps one of the most distinctive films from the region and time, and holds Frances Ha from achieving similar contemporary success is the ability to break solidly from social norms in order to prove their validity. Though both films’ decentralisation of characters make them delightfully unreachable with standard methods of evaluation seeking protagonist and antagonist, or of seeking out a definite hypothesis and proof, the neorealist stylistic choices and comedic relief speak out against a silent censor. In Daisies, this occurs in a grand finale, with the destruction of state property and final smashing of a chandelier and expensive banquet, which at the time infuriated senior Soviet officials. Without a hypothesis, the film successfully proves that, at least in the satellite states, the Soviet Union was a classless society obsessed with materialism.
In Frances Ha the silent censor is outlined, in this case the interpersonal feelings tumultuously clashing inside of a confused girl unsure of her sexuality, her datability, and at times her ability, but is not properly confronted. The picture of Frances moving away from the Eiffel tower, impatient yet hopeful could have communicated the conclusion of this confrontation classically, but that is hopping too deeply into the director’s seat. What can be said, however, is that it is clear that the problems internal to the character Frances such whether she is happy with herself, without a volatile reaction to the silent censor in everyone, and the nature of her social acceptance are neatly folded up and finished, while external ones, such as who exactly she will find, what kind of relationship she will pursue, and her credit card debt are unresolved.
Leaving these unresolved questions combined with unrequited confidence from peers and in herself proves a most intriguing posit: that the United States as this girl has known it is a materialistic society utterly unbound by substantive difficulty. A better proof for the stylistic and cinematographic nature of this film is that America is a materialistic society bound by the pressures of substantive difficulty, but freed through the token of true and open friendship or love as the case might be.

The Act of Killing review and Q and A with producer

Paul Andreas Fischer

As someone who has virtually no experience with the mass killings in Indonesia, seeing The Act of Killing was incredibly shocking. The fabulous lives of members of the former dictatorship who had become wealthy by indiscriminately killing over 2.6 million people was shown, and then the psychologies of these murderers at the time and today was explored. Less obvious but still tangentially present was the role of the government, many of whose officials were still in power and able to purchase their elections. I was struck by just how similar to A Clockwork Orange these executioners seemed in their time, and the interviews with them now almost seemed a thought experiment into an alternative sequel to that film. They killed and played, intertwining the two into a gruesome myriad of images that to some, still alive today, is still vivid in their mind and haunts them, others managed to move on. Political interrogation under this system became synonymous with torture and perjury committed by these monsters. The act of incarceration simply fell to being pushed in a car. A guilty verdict only had to be suggested. And finally, in the execution capital punishment was carried out in a stealthy but still open matter, efficiently in a silent admission to the inherent evil of these deeds, fueled by hard drug use as well as drinking and marijuana use, in futile attempts to cope with the guilt and pain of committing these atrocities. Sometimes behind closed doors at night, other times simply running down the street and stabbing anyone with a chinese demeanor or appearance, sometimes just driving through the night with a body in the back seat waiting to be hurled out into the abyss in a weak and vague impersonation of the out of this world gangster personas of Hollywood.

After the film was finished I asked about the producer’s struggle to dance the line between presenting factual historical accuracy and representing the often conflicting memories of surviving executioners. She responded that the film was not a historical film by any means, and that she herself was not a historian, but had a stronger focus on the psychology of the executioners. She explained that the film was meant as a sort of view into this unique situation that had panned out in Indonesia. Other questions in the Q and A ranged from what levels of censorship had existed, whether hidden cameras had been used as many admissions were shocking to say the least, and what power still remained in Indonesian paramilitary organizations such as the ones headed by the anti-communist former executioners. While it is not in my place to take sides or to comment on issues outside of the scope of this film, I am completely aware of the dangers of communist purges and the ten thousand executed in China even today every year, the hundreds of millions of girls killed only because of their gender, I cannot emphasize how shocked I was as to the scope of the killings, how the executioners saw it as a lifestyle and way of life, and how the society they lived in, while it was not yet a democracy, found no way to communicate for outside help or intervention. One can only assume that the vital nature of Indonesia to international shipping, and its oil reserves and refineries had a significant amount to do with this.
Another comparison to A Clockwork Orange is the pathological nature of the killers. They would do it again. I would have liked to see survivors, and to hear their accounts. but according to them there are none, and if there were they would be killed. Some justify it by claiming that the time was one of war. Others that they had no job, no real other options. No one was brought to them unless they were going to kill them. Evidence or the reality of a nuanced political situation made positively no difference. These men acted as institutionalized and even celebrated serial killers, harboring similar perversions and drug abuse as the sort in A Clockwork Orange who raped, drugged, and ultimately killed at their leisure without apparent backlash, although a key difference is that ultimately the dystopian society portrayed in that film does take punitive action at some point. I have included a typed version of the Q and A, which I took notes on to better shed light on the motives and themes of the producer.

Question and Answer:
Q: At points of violence or struggle in the filming, how was this done?
A: In the massacre scene women and children went through an extensive casting process, and the rest were former executioners bringing their old deeds back to life. The children were surrounded by family, and the film was shot in very short segments, after crying and wailing, the children were frequently given the chance to be reassured by their mothers. As for the actors, the only actual survivor from the village burning was an accident when the cameraman was shooting on a day when the producer and director were not there. The cameraman did not speak Indonesian, so he did not have the opportunity to differentiate, and after the survivor’s death two years later before the release of the film, his family contacted the film makers and gave them posthumous permissions.
Q: Is there an actual film? Or only the documentary as we saw it?
A: There was never the intention to make an actual film, the process of helping the former executioners imagine their own representation of events was merely a psychological tool to help them recount events accurately.
Q: Were there any hidden cameras used? At one point it seems as though they really think they are off tape, or just preparing?
A: At no point were hidden cameras used, and the former executioners were always aware of when the film was rolling.
Q: What was the reception in Indonesia, especially from the complicit government?
A: We started the work with survivors, showing the film to art house critics and stuff from Jakarta. We later expanded to 500 screenings across the country and now offer free downloads of the film.
Q: How did crew stand by while these gangsters took money from street sellers and were these merchants reimbursed?
A: The crew informed the merchants beforehand and had to stand by, but it was agreed the entire time that the merchants knew they were being reimbursed.
Q: Coming from Rwanda, I am curious how the government allowed this to be filmed, as in my country such an endeavour would be futile and even a fictional film such as Hotel Rwanda was nearly impossible to pull off, did the government allow this, were there special permissions needed?
A: The regime used to be a dictatorship, but is now currently a democracy. These war criminals were unpunished and even welcomed by top politicians as seen in the film. Workers unionzed against globalization are still beaten, and intimidation of family members for union membership still occurs, so the effort had to come from outside. There is a strong fear of speaking in public.
Q: What is with the list of anonymous names?
A: Indonesian crew members took part in a film with sensitive matter and we found it best to keep their identities anonymous.
Q: The number 2.6 million killed sort of splashes out, bringing a whole new level of seriousness to the film from serial murderers psychology to the psychology of a genocide was it difficult to dance the line between historical accuracy and factual information and the fantasies and personal anecdotes of the killers?
A: The film was never intended as a historical film, I am not a historian. What we sought was a stronger investigation into the psychologies of the killers and to show how they cope and live with their crimes, and success, today.
Q: What did the subjects [executioners] think of the film?
A: Most in process [missing word?], Anwar did not want to see the film originally, but decided to at some point… looking to a fishing platform. Anwar is loyal to the film, and has backed us up, keeping his word as he felt it was an important endeavour. Hermann has a sort of ‘axis’ loyalty to the film, and glorifies what it does. The paramilitary organizations did not especially approve and saw the filmmaking process as “Anwar vs. us”.
Q: What is the power of the paramilitary organizations today in Indonesia?
A: Still very powerful. If you are not portraying them well they will shut you down, but still the film does show that the country is moving forward.

Jesus of Nazareth 10

Jesus of Nazareth HW 10
Paul Fischer
Dean Brady
Aug. 4, 2010

Paul was beheaded by either the Roman Emperor Nero or his prefects c. 64 AD. How he got Last Supper stories and who gave them to him is critical to determining if his account his accurate. Because he would have been in contact with, and ultimately was martyred with Christians who knew Jesus (such as Peter, who Nero crucified), the possibility that at least parts of the tradition of the Last Supper are authentic.

First, to look at the role that Paul played in the founding of the Christian Church, that can help the reader understand what incentive he had for telling the story of the Last Supper. The early Christian movement was thinly spread out across the Roman Empire, so Paul’s preaching of unity would have been critical to ensuring that those first churches remained together (Corinthians 10:16-7). Jesus did not found Christianity, contrary to popular belief, it was Paul’s work opening up the religion to Gentiles (Gal. 5) that culminated in the conversion of the Roman Empire, and eventually the Emperor Constantine himself.
One of the key tools early Christians used in finding converts was the dinner party. As pedantic as it sounds, one of the greatest appeals of Christianity to the pagans is that there aren’t dietary restrictions. This is in contrast to Judaism, wherein Kosher laws are among the strictest of major religions, and are actively enforced. Paul would have been eager to draw on this Christian advantage by depicting Jesus himself flouting Jewish rules and eating with people of questionable character (Mk.14 ///). For this reason, we can consider the level authenticity in the details probably low.
That there was a last supper, during which Jesus knew he was being hunted for, and it was just a matter of time before the Romans closed in on him, or one of his own betrayed him, is indubitable. What isn’t as certain is that that supper was particularly special, or abnormal, as  suggested in the Gospels and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Furthermore, it seems that he would have used the dinner party, like the Pharisees, rather often as a religious form. Unlike the Pharisees, of course, Jesus invited “bad” people and his teachings were radically different in regard to redemption and charity.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the Last Supper is depicted as distinctly normal, but marked by the introduction of rituals, and of course Jesus prophesies his own death. In Matthew, however, the entire narrative mood suggests that the meeting is unusual and important, that the followers are going to be shown a new part of the Kingdom of Heaven, complete with more teachings and observance of Torah (probably authentic, Peter claimed Jesus was kosher in the last supper, while Paul emphasized the importance of dropping the archaic Jewish law).

Jesus of Nazareth 9

Jesus of Nazareth HW 9
RLG 210
Dean Brady
Paul Fischer

Antiquities actually reveals more about the reality of the reactionary Temple and High Priests than about Jesus himself. Admittedly, his brother is sentenced to stoning without a trial, except for the illegitimate trial held by a Sanhedrin of Judges, whom Herod called against the will of Jerusalem’s populace.  The execution of James and others constituted a dangerous act directly before the outbreak of war in 66 AD.

Sanders points out astutely that  there are at least two major trains of thought regarding the actual dates of Jesus and John the Bapitst (286). The more prevalent, and certainly better elaborated upon by Sanders is that Jesus’ career would in fact be shifted somewhat to the later, in accordance to the Gospels, which depict the lives of Jesus and John as overlapping.  In such a scenario, Jesus would have been executed in 36 AD, two years after Antipas and Herodias’ marriage. John would have been executed for criticism of the couple just as Jesus began to go about and teach (Mk 1.14//).
This chronology is plausible, but Sanders admits that , in the Antiquities from this period, Josephus is far from specific, and the sequencing of events is not highly chronological. Though not much time  is devoted to its discussion, Sanders mentions that the death of Germanicus is 19 AD. If Book 18 of the Antiquities is at least chronologically authentic, then the appointment of Pontius Pilate would have to have been before 19 AD. The Crucifixion would then have taken place as early as 21 AD.  In either of these two historical hypotheses, Sanders points out, one certain fact is being used to make the rest of the evidence match, or as he puts it, “the tail is wagging the dog.”
Because of the paradox presented by the details of Josephus’ account, Sanders encourages the reader to take a more general view of everything. Roman accounts can be used, presumably, to verify a certain pericope or point, but there is nothing conclusive there, most of the information is not specific or trustworthy because of the small  impact Jesus and John had on the Romans. Probably, like Josephus, they believed Jesus to be a small-timer, and would not become aware of his message or importance until centuries later as Apolline schools began to speak Christ and salvation together, and the early Christian Church began to form.
Unfortunately, this part of the story is incredibly hard to check out. In Antiquities 18.3.63-4, the passage appears to have been entirely written by followers of  Jesus. It is obvious because of the extreme break from Josephus’ normal habit of calling these leaders false prophets and “charlatans” while those who followed were “dupes.”
The scholar Kokkinos claims that the Jews would wait for years for big incidents that they could tie together into one story. For example, Antipas could be depicted as marrying Herodias on two different occasions, one when it happened, and again when he was punished in war.

Jesus of Nazareth 8

Jesus of Nazareth HW 8
Paul Fischer
RLG 210

Historically, it seems, Jesus was a rural teacher who, like other religious leaders, went to Jerusalem with his followers. The uprising he caused there either forced a prefect terrified of revolt (or lost tax revenue) to execute him or at least “wash his hands of the matter.” Other, perhaps more influential, perhaps more contrary in doctrine, were generally dealt with harshly.

Such strict rules were necessary to keeping order on the frontier of the Roman Empire. Imperial garrisons in Judea and Israel were generally small, and usually kept out of the way of day-to-day governing. In the case of the man who marched his followers to Mount Gerizim (Antiquities 85), Pontius Pilate led Roman infantry to disperse them, and he executed many. The impact on Historical Jesus research is that now there is multiple sources that attest to not just Rome, but specifically Pilate’s willingness to use violence to  quell uprising. Because “Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential,” (An. 85) this passage causes the reader to wonder if other leaders in Jesus’ ministry were perhaps killed with him.
That the entire circle around a religious leader might be killed, or members of it killed arbitrarily means that fear for their lives would have been a better incentive for betrayal than 30 pieces of silver (Mt. 26:15). Or especially in the case of Peter, who three times forsake Jesus because he was terrified of the repercussions (Lk. 22). These minor insights afforded by the passages are overshadowed by the fact that Jesus’ ministry was considerably smaller than the other period movements in the same area. The Egyptian prophet led a force of thirty thousand and Thedeus threatened to invade Jerusalem with the divine power that brings walls down. Pilate executed over 300, as mentioned before; those were only the leaders, and indicate a much larger overall movement.
Thedeus (An. 20.97-8) is only briefly mentioned by Josephus, but his general path seems to parallel Jesus’ more closely than the others provided. He, apparently alone in his movement, was executed by Roman leaders after encouraging  followers to give up everything in order to follow him to the Jordan river. Like a stunted, unsuccessful story of Jesus, this does not appear to be militant and his power was sourced in miracles (though Thedeus never had the opportunity to show off).
All of these false prophet stories, whether from the Jewish History, or Josephus’ Antiquities, share aspects with the life of Christ, that can help us understand the people’s reaction to Jesus, and better orient ourselves contextually. However, it is very important to remember that the four Gospels are written by followers of Jesus, believers in the resurrection. Conversely, Josephus and Rabbinic scholars assembling the Jewish History would have downplayed the legitimacy of these uprisings. They had the goal of ensuring that Rome did not leave them to foreign invaders, and to do that they had to create a mindset for the populace of the Jews, accordingly. So one should be careful that when the title “charlatan” or false prophet is given, it isn’t necessarily the belief of Judaism as a whole, or even that writer, but just what that writer expected the Romans to need to hear in order to think Judea was worthwhile to the Empire.

Healing Miracles

Jesus of Nazareth HW 7
Paul Fischer
Healing Miracles

Perhaps the most powerful, and undoubtedly the most prevalent, healing miracles show that a religious leader has a connection to an inner life force, or is able to channel the power of God himself. In Mark 5:23-43, Jesus raises a girl  from the dead, and on the way a woman with a severe hemorrhage is healed just by touching him in the street.

Jesus’ ability to heal even without intentionally meaning to suggests that he was overflowing with some sort of divine healing power, which complemented his mastery of demons. Healing miracles make up the vast majority of miracles in the New Testament and are one of the foundations of Christians’ claim to Christ’s titles and fame.
These inexplicable occasions of divine interference are by no means limited to Jesus Christ; as one of the most powerful forms of miracle pagans, Christians, and Jewish alike claimed the ability to heal the sick as one of the greatest powers of their religious leaders even today. Apollonius and other pagan healers such as Hanini and Honi performed healing miracles of faith as well. However, without a sense of institutional religious tradition, these other miracle workers didn’t see their work as a part of a greater work, as Jesus saw himself as a diety-like figure, or at least believed he was among a stream of prophets upholding the grace of God through astonishing miracles.
Healing miracles are either active, passive, or somewhere in between the two. An active healing implies that the healer actually took a sick or dying person and made them better. Passive healers, like Apollonius, only can tell when someone is living who everyone else thought was dead. While there are some occasions of Jesus healing passively, the mere multitudes of active healings that are claimed in the gospel is overwhelming. Mark 5:21-43, 7:31-37, and 8:22-26 are all examples of active healing. In these stories, Jesus heals a legitimately sick person through divine power or magic. In Mark 8:23, Jesus spits on a blind man’s eyes, and touches him in order to bring his sight back. Ritualism was a vital part of his healing process, according to the gospels. Whether it is an authentic tradition or not, ritual became one of the most important parts about Christianity by the time Emperor Constantine converted in the mid-fourth century AD.
Exorcisms aren’t nearly as prevalent as healing miracles in the New Testament, though there are several instances of Jesus driving demons from the people. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus is actually depicted as incurring the wrath of his followers by driving demons into the soul of two thousand swine, and driving them off the edge of a cliff.
In the Antiquities 8.2.5, Josephus recounts the story of Eleazar, an exorcist from the time  of Solomon with significantly more ritualism than later Jews. Interestingly, and in contrast to the stories in the bible, the exorcism is described as being watched by important people (Vespasian and Josephus, among others) almost as  entertainment. It also describes the use of potions and rituals, both of which would liven the exorcism for an audience; this brings up the question of whether Jesus was not as influential as these other miracle workers or what reason he had for staying relatively local in his work. Without knowing more about what Jesus wanted and sought out, it isn’t possible to say why he didn’t work with more important leaders.

Jesus of Nazareth 6

Jesus of Nazareth HW 6
Paul Fischer
Relg 210

In Historical Jesus work, the story of Jesus of Ananias provides a respected, documented Jewish historical narrative with several significant parallels to the story of Christ (i.e. poor, religious leader, executed by Romans after prophesying the fall of Jerusalem and Second Temple Judaism). The similarities in their speech, their hatred for the Temple, and in their respective narrative stories shows that there was probably cross-pollination between the oral traditions that led to each history. More importantly, the story emphasizes the importance of  Jewish eschatology to Christ’s career. A similar prophet, Jesus of Ananias, without that critical advantage is ridiculed by his contemporaries and declared a mad man. Without eschatology to affirm his sense his arrival on the scene was special, Jesus of Nazareth may have remained an unimportant prophet mentioned just a couple of times in Josephus’ history.  

In Josephus’ account of Jesus of Ananias, like Jesus of Nazareth, though Jesus is punished by local Roman leadership, the Jewish high priests are to blame for his grizzly end. Both Jesus’ are killed, but the impact of Jesus of Nazareth’s death consequences a new religion, which is greater than the wailing fool who was released based on madness before finally dying from a stray Roman catapult’s stone (Josephus 6.5.3). Ironically, the stone both fulfills seven years of wailing prophecy, finally proving the accuracy of Jesus of Ananias, and ends Jesus’ career early, keeping him from the achievements of Jesus of Nazareth.
Figuring prominently in both of the Jesus’ teaching is a hatred for the Temple and Jerusalem, and prediction of their downfall (JoN: Mk 13:2,14 JoA: Josephus 6.5.3). The similarities between Josephus’ Jesus of Ananias and the Jesus of Nazareth in Mt. 24:1-2, where he also predicts the fall of the Temple, raises the question to what extent did Josephus know about Jesus of Nazareth, or to what extent the Christ story influenced his telling of Jesus of Ananias’ story. Because Jesus of Nazareth died around 30-40 years before Jesus of Ananias even hit the scene, there was undoubtedly a strong Anti-Temple sentiment in Jerusalem, that was able to produce powerful leaders for decades.
The similarities between Josephus’ account  of  the words of Jesus of Ananias and the words of Jesus suggest there might have been some connection between them. Because Josephus is dismissive, but not ignorant of Jesus of Nazareth, the chances of both stories’ authenticity is relatively high. Jesus of Ananias’ obsession with the Temple helps drive home the central spot that building would have taken in any leader’s life, and tells us there was enough anger with the Temple as to lend credibility to Mt. 24, where he prophesies the end of the Temple.
These leaders base their power almost solely on eschatology: the more of a sense that the Jewish community had that the system was corrupt, and the time had come for God to take empirical matters into his own  hands, then the greater the leader’s power. Jesus was, according to Christians, the sum of Jewish eschatological hopes and while others may have performed miracles or anything else, Jesus of Nazareth has an importance that is separate, that stems from his position in the expanse of religious history and prophesy.

Jesus of Nazareth 5

Jesus Assignment 5
Paul Fischer
RELG 210

The persecution of an early leader by  pre-rabbinic religious figures sounds familiar to Christians; it is the story of the Crucifixion. Before and besides Jesus, however, other Jewish prophets have been depicted as not only performing miracles (Mishnah, Ta’anith 3.8 B), but also facing execution from the fighting, impatient Jews.

Honi,  a proto-rabbinic figure from the Old Testament, is the first rabbi-like figure in the Mishnah to perform a miracle, that of rain  in a parched land. While these miracles built up Honi’s reputation, they also made him a target for military leaders who needed religious support. Almost 200 years before Christ, Honi was executed through stoning by angry Jews who wanted his help in defeating other Maccabees Jewish factions in their struggle for power in Israel.  
Both miracle performing priests, Christ and Honi, were executed for trying to bring peace to the people. Honi refused to fight against his fellow Semites in the Civil War, though he must have been a potentially useful ally for the warring sides to want him so badly.
The sources for this story date back to some of the most influential Jewish historians of the time. Josephus has a very clear and extensive account of the events of Honi’s life. Less well known are the accomplishments of Hanina, who did not perform miracles, but ordered demons about and predicted death or sickness (Talmud Pesahim 114). Unmentioned in Josephus’ account of the time period, Hanina would have lived just as the last Gospels were being bound and copied across the Mediterranean.
Importantly, in analyzing both stories, Honi bringing rain over a hundred years before Christ and Hanina prophesying health just after Christ’s Resurrection, the greatest consequence is seeing the similarities between the gospel’s miracles and the miracles performed by these “proto-rabbis.” This calls the authenticity of Jesus’ miracles into question because early writers such as the Gospels’writers were in the habit of representing rabbinic figures from the period as miraculous. It could be possible that the entire story of Christ, or certainly the miraculous parts, was created to help solidify his position as a religious leader.
In John 3:43, the healing of the Official’s son, Jesus does not heal the boy, but says only, “Your son will live.” This is similar to the stories of Hanina, who predicted when the sick would live and when they would die (Mishnah, Berakoth 5.5). What is more important, is that the concentration of miracle workers around that time period shows that people  put great faith in the power of miracles at the time, and religious leaders were expected to act with miraculous power.
While there is maybe some cross-fertilization between the story of Christ and the two other Jewish leaders, the greater blow to the authenticity of Christ’s miracles is that these two stories show us that some Rabbis, even without necessarily being miraculous, were acclaimed as such, because that was the custom. It would take a great deal more research, and might be impossible, to find out to what extent these tales are hyperbolic, shared, or to what extent they might be authentic.

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