Jesus of Nazareth Homework 4

Jesus HW 4
Jesus of Nazareth
Paul Fischer
7/21/2010


Jesus’ activities at the temple are somewhat controversial; turning over the table covered in gold, denouncing the high priests and proclaiming divinity are all pretty extreme for the small-scale religious figure who has dominated the New Testament so far. What his motivations, and the motivations of his followers who wrote the Gospels, were is even less understood. It is possible that Jesus was simply causing trouble, provoking his own arrest. He could also have been misunderstood, as the apologetic gospel of John shows, the meaning of his prophetic words only striking his disciples after his crucifixion.

Although in John 2:13-22 only two sayings are attributed by Jesus, the similarities in text with Mark’s gospel are consistent  enough to suggest that there must have been a shared literary source. The fact that the story appears in every single synoptic Gospel and the Gospel of John speaks strongly in favor of its authenticity. The existence of other independent written sources such as a brief mentioning in Acts solidifies the story’s claim to authenticity. The bias of the Gospel writers and other early Christians also means that surviving versions of this story are probably somewhat edited. Jesus may have been somewhat more obnoxiously arrogant, though perhaps not as ideologically crossed as the Gospels have us believe.
It is probable that Jesus was in the Temple shortly before his execution, and that he spoke words that could be misinterpreted to be riotous. It is also possible that he intended to cause trouble, at the end of the Gospels he is very sentient of his coming fate. In either case, his animosity towards the high priests and especially their corrupt methods of raising money are hated by Jesus and his followers, who perhaps expected to return Judaism from paganism and luxury of the Roman Empire to the religious monotheistic ideas they were used to.
Early Christians saw this incident as fuel for anti-semitic thought.  This became especially  important as Christianity vied with other sects of Judaism for power in the Roman Empire. One important line in differentiating between the goals of Jesus the Historical Figure and the goals of his various disciples is drawn from Mark 13:1-2, where Jesus says that the Temple will be torn down, that not two stones will be left together. Unless he was a military leader of some sorts, hoping to tear the Temple down is not something that probably would have been possible for someone such as Jesus.
The way that he talks about the Temple in that passage is different from the other sources. In nearly every case he either quotes the Old Testament, calling the Temple a “den of thieves” or claims he has the power both to destroy the Temple  and to rebuild it.  The latter is not quite as realistic as the former. It is important to remember that early Christians would have been just as interested in displaying Jesus’ conflict with Judaism, even when it led to his downfall, because they needed Jews to leave their Temple in disgust.

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