Bestselling Author, latest, Killing Jesus (2013)
Founder of Mansfield Group and Chartwell Literary Group
Pastored in Texas and Nashville, TN
B.A. from Oral Roberts University
M.A. from Abilene Christian University
Ph.D. from Whitefield Theological Seminary
The Politics Surrounding Jesus' Crucifixion
THE REAL HISTORY BEHIND JESUS' CRUCIFIXION
Throughout the years, the crucifixion of Jesus has been depicted in iconic paintings and statues, church plays, feature films, etc. Billions of people across the globe have worn the cross as a symbol of faith. Best-selling author Stephen Mansfield says though we have had the Gospel accounts of the Jesus’ death, they don’t give the complete story. We read about the crucifixion in the Gospels but we need history to fill out the gaps.
Other historical records and testimonies reveal that the execution of Jesus was filled with more political and religious intrigue and was more violent and brutal than we’ve come to know. Stephen says, “The execution of Jesus was a crime born of the streets, the barracks, the enclaves of the privileged, and the smoke-filled back rooms of religious and political power brokers. Its meaning lives in these places still.”
Stephen first began researching the topic of the crucifixion of Jesus as an undergraduate student in the late 1970s. During this time, a Vatican scholar and one of Stephen’s professors talked about the logistics of Jesus’ crucifixion. Stephen found it fascinating. His research intensified in 2012 with a trip to Israel and consultation with scholars and experts.
This book, Killing Jesus: The Unknown Conspiracy Behind the World’s Most Famous Execution, was always “percolating” but people weren’t ready. Today, the millennial generation wants to know everything. Stephen says the 20-somethings need to hear about the real crucifixion. In the past, we were not ready to hear this version of Jesus’ death. Stephen believes we are ready for it now.
THREE THEMES FOUND IN “kILLING jESUS”
The three themes found in the book are:
- Evidence – There is proof of Jesus and His crucifixion.
- Grittiness – Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ did not depict the crucifixion as graphically as it was in reality – Josephus (a Jewish-Roman historian) tells stories of other people who were scourged and survived. This helped document what crucifixion was truly like.
- The Reason Why Jesus was Crucified – He threatened a corrupt system and political system, much like threatening the mafia.
SOME INTERESTING REVELATIONS
-A lot of money passed through the temple. The temple was the NY Stock Exchange of its day – a global marketplace, an international hub. It was the only place gentiles could pray in Jerusalem. Stephen says the temple was bigger than the U.S. Capitol Building and the high priests were getting a cut of all the money that passed through the temple. High priests valued this international trade.
-Jesus said the temple was to be the House of Prayer for all nations. Jesus challenged the Jewish belief system and the corrupt ruling establishment. Stephen says these are the three things Jesus did: 1) challenge corruption 2) defended gentiles 3) established himself
-Holy Week – The corrupt Jewish leaders were determined to kill Him. They didn’t want Jesus to cause a big stir because Rome would take away their power. This is why they arrested Him at night so Jesus’ supporters could not go against their plan to kill Him.
-Scourging – This was not just whipping Jesus. Scourging in those days was whipping with an iron ring that had 6-7 leather straps with bone and metal attached at the ends to rip flesh away. Upon one lash, the leather straps would wrap around the front of the person’s body. Then the punisher would pull back hard and tear pieces of flesh. This would expose bones, and sometimes organs. Josephus writes about this in his accounts.
-During crucifixion, people were attached to the cross by the wrists, not the hands. This would cause a pulling on the chest so the person would have a hard time breathing and have spasms. They would have to push down on their feet to breathe –rising and falling, gasping for air. Also, the surface of the cross was rough and would rub against the person’s body. This rising and falling on the cross was referred to by the Roman soldiers as the “dance of death.”
-The Anti-Semitic lie or Nazi lie – “Jews crucified Jesus.” – It was the corrupt leaders of the time that called for his death. The masses and other leaders loved Jesus. This is why the corrupt temple leaders held Jesus’ trial at night when the people and supportive leaders could not protest. Historical facts reveal the majority of Jewish people showed support of Jesus. Even Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, needed permission to bury Jesus at a great risk and sacrifice to himself.
-Other evidence that the crucifixion and all accounts of its reality are shown by how much they are mentioned by Jesus’ enemies and other historical records. A few of the ancient authors that Stephen cites that have accounts of Jesus’ death are: Josephus (a Jewish-Roman historian), Cornelius Tacitus (a Roman historian), Lucian of Samasota (a satirist), Mara Bar-Serapion (philosopher), and The Talmud (The Jewish Holy Book).
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