In the weeks following Easter, I have noticed variants of a horrific little essay titled the Scientific Death of Jesus, making its way around the internet. An excellent example, complete with illustrations, is found here. It details the Crucifiction of Jesus and then discusses why this is such a great thing, and why we should worship the God who arranged for it to happen. The whole crucifixion theology strikes me as sick and twisted and I have decided to take this opportunity to explain why I reject, using the essay linked above as a starting point.
To start the essay claims “Only the worst criminals could die like Jesus.” I would question this statement. Anyone accused of challenging Roman rule could receive this fate, which would hardly amount to only the worst criminals. Furthermore, unlike the way he is depicted in the bible (petitioning to the Jews to let, Jesus off the hook) Pontius Pilate was in fact, a ruthless executioner, who indiscriminately killed those brought before him. Pilate’s Jewish contemporary Philo of Alexandria referred to “his venality, his violence, his thefts, his assaults, his abusive behavior, his frequent executions of untried prisoners and his endless save ferocity.” That the Jesus met the fate of crucifixion hardly make him unique.
The piece goes on to describe the horrible suffering associated with brutal form of execution. For sake of brevity, I’ll assume it gives a fairly accurate account. It goes on to state “Jesus endured that reality over 3 hours. Yes, over 3 hours!” I question their three hour figure, since Mark 15:25 states “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him,” while verse 34 states “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. This would lead me to conclude he was alive for at least six hours. Though, I have not found any definitive sources, Wikipedia and various other sites make the claim that “The length of time required to reach death could range from a matter of hours to a number of days, depending on exact methods, the health of the crucified person and environmental circumstances.” In other words Jesus suffering may have rather short lived compared to other victims.
The piece goes on to claim “He had no more blood to bleed, He only poured water” and that “Jesus poured all 3.5 litres of his blood.” These strike me as highly specific claims to make about an event that happened 2000 years ago. I question how they could possibly know the contents of Jesus’ body to that degree of accuracy.
Next the essay states “beyond that, a Roman soldier who nailed a spear into his chest.” While certainly possible the historicity of this stabbing is highly questionable. The incident appears only in the gospel attributed to John, which scholars tend to recognize as differing heavily from the other canonical gospels and historically suspect . For example John’s gospel, expands Jesus ministry from one year to three years, with three distinct trips to Jerusalem. Also, John moves the infamous purification of the temple from the end of his public ministry to its beginning. While the other Gospels, primarily features Jesus speaking in pithy quotes and parables, John expands these into lengthy verbatim discourses (How did he remember them?). John, refers to “the Jews” as if they were some foreign group, rather than people from whom the author was born and raised. John also neglects to mention such events as the transfiguration, the raising of Jarius’s Daughter and the ascention, which other Gospels claim he was one of only a few witnesses. Also John turns Luke’s parable about a man named Lazarus into and actual historical event. James Dunn, a leading New Testament scholar notes that “Few scholars would regard John as a source for information regarding Jesus’ life and ministry in any degree comparable to the synoptics.”
To make matter worse John States that “For these things came to pass, that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” There is no Prophecy preserved in the Old Testament that says a “A bone of him shall not be broken.” It is often assumed that this refers to Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, which are not prophecies at all but instructions not to break the bones in a Passover lamb, or Psalm 34:20, which is says nothing to indicate that it is a prophecy of some future event either. John’s statement “and again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” relies on a mistranslation of 12:10. In the original verse “they look onto me, whom concerning they have pierced and they will mourn him like the weeping of a first born.” In the context it is clear that the “me” is God, and the piercing is done by the Jewish people, rather than a Roman soldier. Jew interpret this verse as being about God defending Jerusalem from its enemies at a time when the nation of the world conspire against it rather than the physical injury of a messiah figure.
Aside from this, The Scientific Death of Jesus goes onto conclude: “Jesus had to pass all this experience, so that you can have free access to God. So that your sins could be “washed”. All of them, with no exception! Don’t ignore this situation. HE DIED FOR YOU.” In other words a man allowed himself to be brutally and humiliatingly murdered for me. I have to question why this would even become necessary. Christians generally state that it is because we are all indebted to God by our sins and God required this sacrifice to forgive us. This is highly problematic, since only a horrible monster would require a brutal murder to take place in order to forgive others. This need for a human blood sacrifice is a carryover from the animal sacrifices described in the Old Testament, and is very much the type of cruel barbarism we should be denouncing rather than celebrating.
Christian will reply though that it is wonder that God so willingly gave his life or his son. I reject the notion he generously gave anything, since he clearly got his son back, and seemingly created this son specifically for this purpose. It is only made worse when we consider, that Jesus and God are supposedly same entity (though Jesus only ever referred to God in the third person). From the Trinitarian point of view we are forced to conclude that this God is putting on a twisted piece of theater, where he is sacrificing himself to himself, in a horribly bloody manner, to save others from his own wrath. It makes absolutely no since.
Also what is three-6 hours of human suffering to a being that is supposedly infinite, eternal and omnipresent and all encompassing? For such a being extraordinary pains for us, would be incredibly insignificant. If you, dear reader, existed since the beginning of time, a few hours of suffering would hardly be comparable to a pinprick. Further, if this God is truly omnipresent, he would experience all human suffering anyway, making the suffering he experiences in this gesture largely redundant.
Even if we accept the concept of sin as valid the notion that allowing an innocent person to be murdered somehow absolves us of responsibility, is morally absurd by all convention standards. It is only made worse by the fact that, those who are unable to believe this horrific and outrageous set of theological claims are promised eternal punishment for us. The Christian God has essentially created a torture chamber, that can only be escaped by pledging an eternity of praise and gratitude for allowing a brutal murder to take place.
I am happy to say I reject the whole crucifixion narrative as rubbish. It is immoral, nonsensical, and horrendously violent. The concept of blood sacrifice, human or otherwise, has no place in an advanced society.