THE ARREST OF JESUS
From the book "The Trial and Death of Jesus"
by the late Haim Cohn (Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel)
The story of the trial and death of Jesus starts with his arrest. If a trial is wrapped in mystery, whether for lack of information or by reason of contradictory reports, particulars of the arrest might afford a clue to the solving of the enigma. If you know of what a man is suspected, for what he is arrested, and by whom and on whose orders, you can draw some conclusions as to the charges on which he was eventually tried and the tribunal which tried him. Not that we have clear and unequivocal accounts of the particulars of the arrest of Jesus, but such as we have must be carefully examined lest any clue be overlooked.
When Jesus and the disciples had finished their meal (the "Lord's Supper"), they went out of the city of Jerusalem unto the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26; Matt. 26:30; Luke 22:39) and there came to a place called Gethsemane (Mark 14:32; Matt. 26:36), which might be identical with what is described in John as a garden over the brook of Cedron (John 18:1). It is significant that, according to Luke (22:39) and John (18:2) alike, Jesus often resorted to this place with his disciples; it may well be that the gardens and hills surrounding the city were then, as they are today, favorite and popular walks.
As Jesus speaks to the disciples (Mark 14:41-42; Matt. 26:45-46; Luke 22:46), there suddenly appear people led by Judas, and it is at once apparent that they come with hostile intent. According to Mark, they were "a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders" (14:43); according to Matthew, there were also "elders of the people" (26:47); according to Luke, Jesus first beheld "a multitude" (22:47), but straightway addressed himself to "the chief priests and the captains of the temple and the elders which were come to him" (22:52); and according to John, they were "a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees . . . with lanterns and torches and weapons" (18:3), but the arrest was carried out by "a band and the captain and officers of the Jews" (18:12). There is no longer any controversy among the scholars that the band and the captain were a cohort and its tribune, that is, a Roman military unit commanded by a Roman officer,1 so that while the Synoptic Gospels tell of the presence of Jews only at the arrest, the Johannine tradition is that both Roman soldiers and Jews took part in it.
Before we examine that tradition meticulously, let us try to identify the "Jews" who, according to all the evangelists, took part. A modern writer suggests that while they were the emissaries of the Jewish priests, these participants were not themselves Jews but Gentiles, his argument being that the "sinners" into whose hands Jesus said that he would be betrayed (Matt. 26:45; Mark 14:41) are never Jews but always Gentiles (cf. Gal. 2:15; Matt. 9:10-11); and "the chief priests had at their disposal a small force recruited from many nationalities, and also non-Jewish servants and slaves."2 However that may be, and whatever the right construction of the term "sinners" used by Jesus on that occasion, words which he used before the event can hardly be adduced as proof of the identity of the men who afterward came to arrest him. Moreover, even if "sinners" can denote only Gentiles, his prophecy, at least according to John, would have been realized by the presence of Roman troops, notwithstanding the presence of "nonsinners."
The presence and active part of Jews seem to be established by the fact that, on his arrest, Jesus was at once led not into Roman custody, but into the home of the high priest, or, according to John, that of the high priest's father-in-law. It stands to reason that it was Jewish temple police who would lead him there, that constabulary being under the high priest's supreme command; and, as will be shown, Jesus could not have been brought into the high priest's home without express instructions to that effect from that dignitary himself.
Some of the Gospels, however, speak of the presence, at the arrest, not of orderly contingents of temple police, but of "multitudes," giving the impression of an indeterminate number of people sent by the "chief priests" or "elders" or "Pharisees," whether as hirelings or just as an incited mob. Luke even suggests the presence of "elders," a suggestion unreasonable on the face of it: an arrest is not normally made—nor was it then—by an "elder" or judge, and certainly not by many elders or judges assembled together; the authority desiring an arrest will dispatch for the purpose one or more armed officers trained in police work such as this. Nor would any "elder" or notable let himself be troubled, at such an hour of the night, to go out of house and city and walk uphill for no little distance simply to attend in person the arrest of a suspected criminal, whoever it might be. If that is true any ordinary night, it must be all the truer on this particular night: whether it was, as the Synoptic Gospels have it, the very night of the great feast of Passover or, as John reports, only the night of Passover eve, every Jewish householder was busy at home either celebrating the Seder or preparing for the feast and its sacrifices.
INTERESTING THAT COHN NOTES THE PASSOVER WAS ALREADY UNDERWAY, BUT YET COULD BE PREPARING FOR IT. THE SEEMING CONTRADICTION IS ANSWERED IN MY STUDIES ON THE PASSOVER, UNDER "FEASTS OF GOD" ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt
It is inconceivable that on such a night he could be lured out into the hills to share in a police expedition. Finally, if the "elders" were, indeed, the instigators of the arrest, it does not make sense that they should attend and take part in it in person: on the contrary, they would send their agents, but be extremely careful not to be seen and identified themselves.
WELL WHOEVER THESE "ELDER" WERE THEY WERE ELDERS, SO SAYS THE GOSPELS. ELDER CAN BE USED FOR MEN OF OLD AGE, LOOKED UP TO IN THE COMMUNITY, BUT NOT NECESSARY "RELIGIOUS" LEADERS PER SE - Keith Hunt
The real identity of the Jewish participants in the arrest is deducible from the reference in Luke to "the captains of the temple" (22:52). The term here translated into English as "captains" is the Greek strategoi, military commanders. It has been suggested that these "temple commanders" are the vice-priests (seganei kohanim),3 of whose functions we have some knowledge in the Jewish sources: wherever seganim occurs in the Bible (e.g., Jer. 51:23, 28, 57; Ezek. 23:6, 12, 23), it is rendered in the Septuagint as strategoi. These vice-priests were charged, inter alia, with the public relations of the temple administration: they had to proceed to the gates of the city and there welcome the people arriving from other parts of the country with the first fruits of their fields and vineyards as a gift to the temple.4 There is a list of precedence of temple officers, in which seganim rank after officiating priests and before the commanders of the temple police,5 from which it would appear that police commanders were their immediate subordinates. Since, in the verse quoted from Luke, the "captains of the temple" are mentioned as present together with the "chief priests," it has been argued that the seganim represent the "chief priests," whereas the commanders of the temple police are the "captains of the temple,"6 suggesting that the police commanders and their immediate superiors might both have been present. But it seems clear, on any view, that the term strategoi can refer only to a commanding officer of military or quasi-military character and, in the context of the temple, to none but officers of the temple police.
While we have discarded as unreasonable the report that "elders" or "chief priests" may have attended Jesus' arrest in person, the version that temple police, and their commanding officers, did so appears eminently sound. The arrest of a suspect, as we have remarked, is normally carried out by a police unit and not by "multitudes" of people or by elders and notables. In the Gospel of John we find striking corroboration of our preference: the Jewish participants are there described as being "officers" from the chief priests (18:3) or "officers" of the Jews (18:12), and the only "officers" competent to carry out arrests for the "chief priests" in particular and for the "Jews" in general were the officers of the temple police.7
WHATEVER LUKE MEANT BY "CHIEF PRIESTS" IS PROBABLY UP FOR DEBATE; I FIND IT DOUBTFUL THAT ANY PRIEST OF THE TEMPLE WHO HAD IT IN FOR JESUS, WOULD ACTUALLY COME OUT TO BE PART OF THE ARREST BAND. USUALLY THE GUYS AT THE TOP, WANTING JESUS ARRESTED, LIKE TO STAY IN THE BACKGROUND AND LET OTHERS DO THEIR DIRTY WORK. THEY MAY PLAN IT, BUT MOST OF THE TIME DO NOT WANT TO DIRTY THEIR HANDS WITH THE ACTUAL PHYSICAL TASK OF DOING THE ARRESTING - Keith Hunt
Our starting point will, therefore, be the premise that the temple police was detached by the "chief priests," that is, as we shall see, by the high priest and his entourage, to apprehend Jesus; and it is immaterial whether the unit or units that carried out the task were under the command of lower-ranking or higher-ranking officers. But the fact that it was temple police who arrested Jesus does not exclude the possibility that other persons were on the scene, and the question arises whether the "multitudes" of Mark and Matthew cannot be accounted for in some way or other. It appears intrinsically improbable that townspeople, of their own accord, should join the temple police in a march out of the city at night to arrest no matter whom. It has been suggested that, as is, indeed, implicit in the language of the Gospels, they did not join in spontaneously but were hired by the "chief priests" and elders, either to aid the temple police in overcoming any possible resistance or by their very presence to overawe Jesus and his disciples into submissiveness.8 But "multitudes" milling about at the place of arrest would be an obstacle to the police rather than a help: nothing would have been easier for Jesus and his handful of disciples than to mingle among the crowd and to all intents and purposes disappear, or anyhow stir up such confusion as to thwart any orderly police action. Furthermore, the Gospels which report the presence of "multitudes" tell that they were led there by Judas, who had treacherously conspired with the "chief priests and captains" (Luke 22:4) to that end, and surely none of the conspirators, least of all the ringleader, would want a "multitude" of witnesses to the plot and its success. It is in the nature of a conspiracy that it is concluded in secret and carried into effect in secret, with a minimum of partners and potential informers. If the "multitudes" have any meaning at all, they must mean something different from multitudes of Jews.
There is one other discrepancy which goes to the heart of the matter, and we shall meet it again: it concerns the attitude of the Jews at large to Jesus in particular and, in general, to any suspect threatened with arrest. Any Jewish "multitude" would have to be recruited from the lower strata of the people: others would not let themselves either be hired or be facilely inflamed. Of these same "multitudes"—even the term used is the same—we know that they greeted Jesus rapturously on his arrival in Jerusalem only a few days earlier: "a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way," and "all the city was moved" (Matt. 21:8-10). So far from enlisting the help of such "multitudes" against Jesus, the chief priests and the scribes were in no doubt that "the world is gone after him" (John 12:19), and they dreaded, rightly, "lest there be an uproar of the people" (Mark 14:2) if they did him harm. If they wanted Jesus taken into custody, the last thing that they would do would be to let the Jewish "multitudes" be present, for the inevitable outcome of that indulgence would be Jesus' rescue from the hands of the temple police into safety. The more so if, as is reported, the "multitudes" were armed "with swords and staves" (Mark 14:43; Matt. 26:47): as likely as not, the outraged sympathizers would have given the police short shrift and led Jesus home in triumph.
I WILL AGREE IT IS VERY UNLIKELY THE "MULTITUDES" WERE JUST TOM AND SALLY FROM OFF THE STREETS. 99 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO BUSY OBSERVING THE PASSOVER, OR PREPARING FOR IT [DEPENDING IF YOU WERE OBSERVING THE CORRECT FAMILY DOMESTIC PASSOVER OF THAT EVENING OF THE BEGINNING OF THE 14TH; IF GOING TO OBSERVE THE PHARISEE PASSOVER, YOU'D BE SLEEPING IN BED AT THAT TIME OF THE NIGHT - PASSOVER FOR YOU WOULD BE THE NEXT AFTERNOON AND INTO THE EVENING OF THE 15TH] - Keith Hunt
There was good reason, verily, why the people should love Jesus: not only was he one of their own who had risen, by the manifest grace of God, to that intellectual and moral stature to which, consciously or not, each of them aspired, but his fame as a worker of miracles, healer of the sick, consoler and redeemer of the poor and persecuted, castigator of corruption, and, like themselves, sworn enemy of the rich and mighty was more, far more, than enough to win him popular affection and devotion. That "multitudes" of such ardent well-wishers should be forthcoming at anybody's invitation to help in arresting Jesus cannot seriously be credited.
I WILL AGREE THIS WOULD BE SO - Keith Hunt
But let us, for the sake of argument, assume that the "multitudes" enlisted that night did not know, and were not told, that it was Jesus who was to be arrested. It is, perhaps, conceivable that the temple police turned to the general public for help in catching a dangerous fugitive from justice who might be expected to resist arrest violently and so must be overcome by greater numerical strength. It is, however, doubtful, to say the least, that any number of citizens would have answered such a call unless first told who the offender was and what his offense.
Once the identity of the "fugitive" was revealed, it would, for the reasons given, have put a speedy end to any cooperativeness of the people; if misleading information was offered by the temple police, the deception would be visible as soon as the people beheld the "quarry": in the best case, they would lay down their arms and go home; in the worst, they would rescue Jesus and thus frustrate the whole purpose of the temple police. And, insofar as concerns divulging the grounds of arrest, it is open to doubt whether the temple police knew what they were at all: at any rate, they did not disclose them to Jesus on his arrest; and it will emerge from the subsequent proceedings that, from the point of view of the Jewish authorities, there was no ground which could be reduced to precise legal terms. But even assuming that the "chief priests" had seen fit to accuse Jesus of any of his unorthodox sayings or acts— which in itself, as we saw, was most unlikely—and to order his arrest on any such account,
COHN IS STARTING HIS IDEOLOGY OF THE CHIEF PRIESTS NOT BEING AGAINST JESUS, BY SAYING, "…SEEN FIT TO ACCUSE JESUS OF ANY OF HIS UNORTHODOX SAYINGS OR ACTS - WHICH IN ITSELF, AS WE SAW, WAS MOST UNLIKELY…" - Keith Hunt
it was just this kind of teaching and ministering that endeared Jesus to the masses. To adduce it as a ground of his arrest would, consequently, agitate them not only to withhold all cooperation from the temple police, but to do everything in their power to rescue him.
Nor should one believe that it would be easy for the temple police, or a commander, to mobilize popular aid in any of its operations outside the temple precincts. Within and around the temple, the temple police exercised their proper competence, and presumably everybody would lend them a hand to prevent disorder or desecration. Outside the holy precincts, it is possible that they might enlist support of the people in a clash with the Roman occupation forces or individual legionnaires, but never in support of action carried out for the Romans or in connivance with them. The people would never degrade themselves to do the "dirty" work of the police against a nonprivileged Jew, their own kith and kin. And it is not only, and not so much, this notorious reaction of the people that would render futile any police appeal for cooperation, but long-standing awareness of it would make the temple authorities refrain, in the first place, from even attempting to secure their help. If the chief priests "feared the people" (Luke 20:19), as they had every reason to, and therefore held themselves back from "laying hands" on Jesus (ibid.), and were sure that there would be a popular uproar (Mark 14:2) if any harm came to him, it would be sheer, almost suicidal, stupidity on their part to seek the assistance of the very same elements whose clamor and mutiny they rightly foresaw and feared. No less than the unmistakable antagonism of the people to any proceeding by the temple police against Jesus, it is the fact that the authorities had full cognizance of the people's attitude that renders any recruitment of Jewish "multitudes" for any such proceeding absolutely unthinkable.
YES, I WILL AGREE WITH COHN HERE - Keith Hunt
It may be that the Gospels use the term "multitudes" not in an objective but in a subjective sense: to Jesus and the disciples, who that night, in that peaceful garden, were surprised by a number of armed men, it might have seemed as if "multitudes" were descending upon them. Indeed, if we take literally the Johannine report of the presence of a "cohort," that must have been the impression: the Roman army was divided into legions, each legion of ten cohorts, and each cohort of six centuriae; and, while in each centuria, as its name says, there were a hundred soldiers, we find that there were at times cohorts of fewer than six hundred men, and legions of fewer than six thousand, but the common opinion is that a cohort would never count less than three to four hundred.9 Assuming that the cohort which came to arrest Jesus was a very small one of only three hundred soldiers, nevertheless a contingent that numerous was big enough to be called, and regarded as, a veritable "multitude," much too big, in fact, for the business on hand. And, indeed, it has been suggested that this was not a full cohort, but only part of one, and that the authors of the Gospel exaggerated slightly.10
NO EXAGGERATION, BUT "MULTITUDE" IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER; EVEN 50 OR 100 COULD BE CLAIMED TO BE A "MULTITUDE" - Keith Hunt
The Johannine version that Jesus was arrested by the whole or a part of a Roman cohort, commanded by its tribune, with the Jewish temple police and its commanding officer in attendance, is now being accepted as the true statement of facts by most contemporary scholars,11 and it will be accepted by us for its reasonableness and, in the light of subsequent events, its inherent probability. It should be remembered that the author of John was an implacable and uncompromising blackener of Jews and whitewasher of Romans; and unless he had to reckon with a well-established tradition, too well known to be brushed aside, that Roman troops took part in the arrest, he would have suppressed it: certainly he would never have invented it. Nothing would have been simpler for him than to follow the Synoptic Gospels and saddle the Jews, alone and squarely, with total responsibility for the arrest of Jesus, to the exclusion of the Romans; that he did not, but expressly mentioned the cohort and its tribune as carrying out the arrest, is clear indication of a deliberate and well-advised recension of extant reports and one for which there must have been a formidably cogent incentive.
YES AND ALSO HE WAS UNDER INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOT TRYING TO MAKE ANYTHING UP, OR SLANT ANYTHING TOWARDS JEWS OR ROMANS, BUT SIMPLY LAYING OUT THE FACTS - Keith Hunt
The fact, then, that the arrest was a joint undertaking of Roman soldiers and the Jewish temple police lends added poignancy to the question who it was that ordered the arrest: did the Roman authorities make the first move, or was the Roman part no more than an act of military aid or backing for an arrest which the Jewish authorities had prompted and for which they bore the ultimate responsibility? But there is a preliminary question, surely, concerning the role of Judas in sponsoring and carrying out the arrest: did he serve Jewish or Roman interests? Preliminary because if it should turn out—as the Gospels have it—that the arrest was the outcome of conspiracy between Judas and the Jews, that would afford strong evidence of Jewish and not Roman initiative.
AND THE GOSPELS ARE CORRECT IN WHAT THEY STATE; BEING UNDER DIVINE INSPIRATION AS TO WHAT WAS WRITTEN, ABOUT THE LIFE OF JESUS AND THE JEWISH LEADERS; ESPECIALLY JESUS AND THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES - Keith Hunt
The treachery of Judas is common to all four Gospels. But the report of a conspiracy between him and the chief priests (Matt. 26:14; Mark 14:10), with or without the elders or captains (Luke 22:4), is found only in the Synoptic Gospels, and only there is the story told of money (Luke 22:5) or thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15) covenanted as a consideration for the betrayal. The Gospel of John tells only that "the devil" was "put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him" (13:2); that Jesus was "troubled in spirit" and said, "Verily, verily, one of you shall betray me" (13:21); that when "Satan" had entered into Judas, Jesus said to him, "That thou doest, do quickly" (13:27); and that Judas indeed betrayed him (18:2). But there is no mention of any conspiracy between Judas and the Jews or any other identified person or group. According to John, therefore, there might have been the possibility of a conspiracy between Judas and the Romans, which could explain the Roman part in the arrest and even imply a Roman initiative.
NOPE TO THE LAST IMAGINED IDEA OF COHN; THERE WAS NO CONSPIRACY BETWEEN JUDAS AND THE ROMANS; IT WAS AS PUT IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS; A JEWISH LEADERS CONSPIRACY WITH JUDAS, TO NAIL JESUS' HIDE TO THE WALL; VERY SIMPLY TO UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE IF YOU KNOW THE GOSPELS ARE INSPIRED OF GOD IN EVERY WAY - Keith Hunt
It is not that a conspiracy between Judas and the Romans is intrinsically less probable or possible than one between them and the Jews: if he wanted to betray his master, he had only to denounce him to the Romans as a rebel or zealot, and he could be sure of swift action. It is that the whole tale of Judas' treachery is so unlikely, so incongruous, regardless of who his fellow conspirators might have been, that it merits no credence.
COHN HERE THROWS OUT THE GOSPEL'S TRUTH OF JUDAS AND THE JEWISH LEADERS, AS "SO UNLIKELY, SO INCONGRUOUS, REGARDLESS OF WHO HIS FELLOW CONSPIRATORS MIGHT HAVE BEEN, THAT IT MERITS NO CREDENCE." HENCE FOR HAIM COHN IT IS ALL MADE UP FANCY FOR "DRAMATIC EFFECTS" I GUESS HE MIGHT SAY; DID NOT HAPPEN AS FAR AS COHN IS CONCERNED; NO GOSPEL INSPIRATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT - Keith Hunt
It may, of course, be that a story of the disciple who betrayed his master and even brought about his death, sinking thus to the lowest depths of shame and immorality, and all because the devil had entered into him (John 13:27), is meant to convey a profound and significant religious message. Nobody, not even the greatest disciple of the greatest master—so the moral would be pointed—is proof against the temptations of Satan or his own criminal inclinations; or there is no escape from doing evil if God has chosen you as His instrument thus to attain His purpose. Perhaps, then, the story was included in the Gospels for purely theological reasons, although some of the early theologians considered it "a terrible scandal"12 and insisted that its inclusion had been imperative solely because the thing had actually happened: "it would lift a very heavy burden from the heart of Christianity if it could be proved that the betrayal of Judas did not take place, and that it is the product of Christian imagination; unfortunately this cannot be proved."13
IT CAN BE PROVED IT HAPPENED, BUT THAT TAKES FAITH THAT THE SCRIPTURES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WERE DIVINELY INSPIRED, AND ALL FIT TOGETHER TO MAKE THE WHOLE, WITH NO MAN MADE, MAN INVENTED STORIES BEING THROWN IN FOR SOME CHRISTIAN BIAS AGAINST JEWISH LEADERS - Keith Hunt
I do not think that one should give up so quickly.
Let us take a more realistic look at the details.
When Jesus "walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness" (John 11:54), the authorities interested in tracking him down and apprehending him might have needed the help of an outside informer: he had gone away to hide, and must have been at pains to keep his whereabouts a well-guarded secret. But when he returned to Jerusalem, it was openly and triumphantly: "much people that were come to the feast" had heard in advance that he would be coming (John 12:12), and there can be no reasonable doubt that the authorities—if they were interested in him —knew of his impending advent. And when he arrived, he did not mingle with the huge crowds that filled the streets of Jerusalem at this festive season, but rode on an ass (John 12:14) to the welcome of loud and prolonged ovations (John 12:13; Matt. 21:8-10). Now the conspiracy between Judas and the priests is reported as having been arranged two days before the feast of Passover (Mark 14:1; Matt. 26:2), that is, either on the very day of Jesus' triumphant entry or on the next, when everybody was already fully apprised of his whereabouts. There would have been no difficulty whatever in tracing him, neither for the Roman authorities nor, least of all, for the temple police of the chief priests. According to Luke, Jesus himself, when arrested, said: "Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me" (22:52-53); and Luke records as well that Jesus was in the daytime teaching in the temple, "and all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple for to hear him" (21:38). He could have been arrested there, in the very bailiwick of the temple police or on his way from or to the temple, or easily followed wherever he went, as he presumably was. There was no need for any "betrayal" or conspiracy, and any money spent for such services as Judas volunteered to render was a sheer waste.
LOOKS LIKE COHN IS GETTING THE IDEA OF A BETRAYAL BY JUDAS, AS BEING FICTITIOUS AND ALL MADE UP; WE SHALL SEE - Keith Hunt
The explanation commonly offered to make the story plausible is that the chief priests, as has been said, were very much afraid of public uproar if Jesus were to be arrested in the open (Mark 14:2), and determined, therefore, to take him at night, under cover of darkness and outside the city, where no citizen protest could be stirred. It was the nocturnal haunt of Jesus, with which his disciples, Judas among them, were familiar, but which could not be discovered by uninitiated strangers, that was the subject matter of Judas' deal. Now, however, we are told that while in the daytime he was teaching in the temple, Jesus every night "went out and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives" (Luke 21:37); and the spot whither Judas traced him was no secret hiding place, but "Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples" (John 18:2). He could be followed there with no difficulty, without the aid of any informer. Nor need we imagine that the hillside around Jerusalem was less easily accessible in those days than it is in ours: the Mount of Olives rises not far from the city wall to the northeast, with all of its possible avenues easily overlooked from the battlements; and however flourishing and fertile the "gardens" on the mount may then have been, the distances are not such that a person entering them could not at once be detected. Not even the alien legionaries would have required a guide to find their way around the mount; and the indigenous temple police would be bound to regard the offer of any such guidance as an insult to their intelligence.
The same considerations apply to the device adopted by Judas to identify Jesus: "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast" (Matt. 26:48; similarly Mark 14:44). Jesus was well known to the temple police: he preached in the temple daily and attracted huge crowds. There could have been no need for extra identification, not even at that time of night. It was the fourteenth or fifteenth of the month, the moon was full, and visibility in Jerusalem excellent; and while only the Gospel According to John expressly mentions that the troops and police were equipped with torches and lanterns (18:3), they would hardly have embarked on this expedition of search and seizure after nightfall without lighting of sorts. It is not without significance that the authors of the Gospel of John reject the tradition that Judas betrayed his master by kissing him, a mode of betrayal which Jesus himself censured (Luke 22:48): according to John, Jesus was not identified by Judas but himself stepped forward and asked, "Whom seek ye?" and when he heard it was he whom they sought, he said, "I am he," while "Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them" (18:4-5) As the Gospel of John is mute as to the details of Judas' conspiracy, so does it not divulge how he betrayed Jesus. The truth is that neither the conspiracy nor the betrayal was at all required for the arrest: whoever desired to seize Jesus could do so, in daytime or at night, with no outside help.
HAIM COHN HAS INDEED, WITH SOME HUMAN LOGIC, DONE AWAY WITH THE JUDAS CONSPIRACY; BUT HE FORGETS THE HUMAN FACTOR IN IT ALL, THAT HUMANS DO STRANGE THINGS AT TIMES OF NERVOUS ANTICIPATION IN A PLAN AGAINST A POPULAR FIGURE, AND AT A FESTIVAL TIME TOO BOOT. THEN THERE IS THE FACTOR OF GOD IN IT ALL. IT WAS PROPHESIED THAT JESUS' ARREST AND DEATH WOULD BE A CERTAIN WAY. GOD WOULD MOVE IN THE HEARTS OF MEN TO BRING ABOUT THOSE PROPHECIES; HENCE HUMAN LOGIC FROM HUMANS THINKING THIS OR THAT AS COHN HAS DONE, DOES NOT ALTER THE PLAN OF GOD. IN FACT IT SHOWS GOD'S HAND IN IT ALL, AS IT WAS ALL DONE DIFFERENTLY THAN HUMAN LOGIC WOULD HAVE IT. GOD'S PROPHECIES WOULD BE FULFILLED - Keith Hunt
If it were true that the chief priests had mobilized "a mob of ruffians armed with clubs and swords," "brigands . . . diverted from robbing lesser priests of their dues at the threshing-floor to another task," the kidnaping of a man on whom murder was about to be committed, then it might be that these ruffians and brigands "required a sign to identify their man."14 We have shown that the men who came to arrest Jesus were Roman soldiers and Jewish constables. There is nothing whatsoever in the Gospels to warrant the assumption that the priests hired gangsters to seize Jesus, except the story of his identification by a recreant Judas; for "one cannot conceive that any regular officer of the law would have had to resort to bribery to identify Jesus. He had been a central figure in the courts of the temple for nearly a week."15 Therefore, if Judas kissed Jesus to identify him, it must have been ruffians and brigands who had come to take him. But such an inference, however ingenious it seems, cannot be squared with the Gospel texts. Jesus addressed the men who had come to arrest him as the same who sat daily with him when he taught in the temple (Matt. 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 22:53): if it was not the temple police, at any rate it was frequenters of the temple, who needed no identification of him.
ALL MIGHT SEEM AGAINST HUMAN LOGIC, AND JUST NOT THE WAY THINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE, AS COHN TRIES TO ARGUE; IT IS THE GOD FACTOR HE DOES NOT SEE. THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO DOES THINGS HIS WAY, WHO CAN FORETELL WHAT WILL, AND HOW IT WILL ALL TAKE PLACE, HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE, BRINGS TO PASS THE FORETOLD DETAILS OF THE BETRAYAL AND ARREST OF JESUS, THE WAY HE SAID IT WOULD BE, WHICH INDEED WOULD SEEM TO BE AGAINST ALL LOGIC AS HAIM COHN PRESENT IT - Keith Hunt
The theory that no formal arrest took place at all, but that Jesus was seized by kidnapers and taken away to be murdered, finds some apparent support in the absence of any declared ground for the arrest: it is said that had Jesus been formally arrested, he would have been informed of the grounds, or at least the grounds would have been mentioned in the Gospel reports. This sort of argument curiously reflects modern concepts of the right of accused persons to be informed without delay of the grounds for their arrest; but apart from the fact that such concepts are far from being put into practice in large parts of the world even today, there is nothing in our sources which entitles us to suppose that any procedure of the kind was in vogue, or prescribed, under either Roman or Jewish law in the time of Jesus. Furthermore, if ruffians and brigands had really been hired for the kidnaping, one would expect that they could at the same time have been hired to murder as well: why had the murder to be staged as it was, why had the kidnaped man to be brought into the home of the high priest, why bother the Roman governor and Roman executioners? Jesus was seized at nighttime, outside the city, in a lonely spot, and his disciples "all forsook him and fled" (Mark 14:50); nothing would have been easier than to kill him, if that was what they wanted, there and then. That those who came did not kill him, but were apparently under orders to take him into the presence of the high priest in person, is indication enough that he was not being kidnaped by criminals but arrested by authority.
VERY TRUE, I AGREE WITH COHN - Keith Hunt
One final matter is to be noted regarding the Judas episode, namely, the talmudic tradition that Sadducean high priests were wont to engage in undercover activity, so that a plot with Judas would fit perfectly into the picture. The tradition stems from the "popular squib"16 preserved in the Talmud in which not only the clubs and fists of the high priests and their servants but also their whispers and pens were deplored:17 and whispers and pens may, to be sure, have furthered conspiracies with secret informers. As we have seen, the squib was contrived one or two generations after the death of Jesus, and proves nothing about the chief priests of his time; but even assuming that in his time, too, there were men who would not shrink from any vicious malpractice to attain their ends,18 not excluding machination with paid informers, neither the mental and theological readiness of Judas to betray his master nor any potential readiness of the priests to hire him as an informer affords proof that anything of the kind had actually been engineered between them. The intrinsic improbability and utter superfluity of such an arrangement far outweigh any conceivability that it might start with.
We shall, therefore, set out from the premise that there was no conspiratorial arrangement with Judas on the part of either the Romans or the Jews, and that the episode reported in the Gospels provides no clue to the question before us, which is: Who prompted the arrest of Jesus?
SO COHN HAS INDEED "DONE AWAY WITH" THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS OF A BETRAYAL BY JUDAS WITH ANY JEWISH LEADERS. HE HAS WITH SOME HUMAN LOGIC THROWN OUT THE WORKING OF GOD AS FORETOLD IN THE PROPHETS OF OLD. YES WITH HUMAN LOGIC IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THIS W AY AS RECORDED IN THE INSPIRED GOSPEL ACCOUNTS, BUT THIS IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS, AND IS ABLE TO BRING TO PASS THE WAY HE FORETOLD THE BETRAYAL AND ARREST OF JESUS WOULD BE, HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE IT HAPPENED - Keith Hunt
There is no doubt—though the contrary has been argued—that the Jewish courts were empowered to issue warrants of arrest and in practice regularly did. Arrest procedures are part and parcel of the administration of criminal justice, and a court competent to try criminals has inherent jurisdiction to take all necessary steps to have an accused brought before it for trial. Saul, afterward Paul, is said to have approached the high priest "and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any on his way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem" (Acts 9:2); and defending himself before Agrippa, he declared, "many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests" (26:10). We find explicit references to imprisonment pending trial in talmudic sources also, for instance, for bodily assault in which a fatal outcome is feared and trial is suspended until either death takes place or the danger of it has passed,19 or for suspected murderers against whom some, but not enough, evidence is as yet available.20 The mention of specific cases does not exclude the legitimacy and practice of other pretrial arrests, but rather proves that the practice, as such, was followed.
NO PROBLEM - THE JEWS DID HAVE POWER TO ISSUE WARRANTS OF ARREST - Keith Hunt
It has been contended that the absence of a formal warrant of arrest indicates that the arrest of Jesus was ordered by the Jews and not the Romans, because the Sanhedrin did not require any formal charge, whereas in Roman criminal procedure one was indispensable.21 In other words, that the Jews would order the arrest of a suspect even without knowing, or making any effort to know, on suspicion of what offense: during his detention, forsooth, there would be time to find out what could be proved against him. This theory is not borne out by our knowledge of the law, which is that a suspected murderer may not be arrested and imprisoned without trial unless there is at least some evidence to hand against him, however short it may fall of sufficing for his conviction,22 as the law requires, for instance, two eyewitnesses at least before a man can be convicted of a capital offense (Deut. 17:6; 19:15); if only a single eyewitness is momentarily forthcoming, the suspect may be arrested and held in custody, but cannot yet be tried. This means that no arrest or detention may take place unless at least the subject matter of the suspicion, the cause of the arrest, is first established. The fact that no formal written charge was required or the opening of a trial does not, therefore, mean that a person could be arrested and detained whether a charge against him was known to be pending or not.
We have observed that Jesus was given no hint or information of what offense he was suspected and was being arrested for. Had he been told that it was one of a Jewish religious nature, in whose respect the Jewish courts exercised exclusive jurisdiction, the conclusion that his arrest had been ordered by a Jewish court would have been plain. With information lacking, we can only try to use such circumstantial evidence as we have to arrive at a conclusion.
The fact that a Roman cohort and its Roman commander, as well as Jewish temple police, took part in the arrest is index that the Roman and the Jewish commanders acted in unison and by prearrangement. If so, both must have known why the arrest was being made, and in the eyes of both it must have been legitimate and desirable. The Romans would not have lent their hands to an unlawful or an unnecessary arrest; even if it were possible to hire individual legionaries to share in a kidnaping, a cohort and its commanding tribune could assuredly not have been persuaded to, least of all at Jewish solicitation. If, then, the arrest was lawful, what was its lawful purpose?
NO DOUBT IT WAS LAWFUL IN CERTAIN WAYS, THEN AGAIN THE TEMPO OF THE MINDSET OF THE JEWISH LEADERS WAS SO UPTIGHT AND SO OFF BASE, WITH THEIR ATTITUDE TOWARDS JESUS, THEY COULD HAVE NOT CARED IF IT WAS LAWFUL TO THE 100 PERCENT OR NOT - Keith Hunt
One possibility is that the Jewish court desired it so that Jesus could be brought to trial before it. If he was to be tried on a charge within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Jewish courts, and the occupation authorities had been approached for assistance in effecting the arrest, that assistance would have been denied: the Romans would rightly have answered: Either you have the power and the means to summon and bring before your courts the Jewish accused over whom you wish to exercise and retain jurisdiction - then, please, use your power and wield your jurisdiction as best you can—or you have neither enough power nor enough means to secure the attendance of your own people before you—then, please, do not profess to claim jurisdiction over them! It is probable that, even in matters within the jurisdiction of both the Jewish courts and the Roman governor, such universal crimes, for example, as murder, in whose prosecution the Romans were presumably no less interested than the Jews, the Romans would have faced the Jewish courts with the alternative: Either you can secure the attendance of the accused before you or you cannot; if you cannot, he had better be tried before the Roman governor, notwithstanding the concurrent jurisdiction which the law vests in you. The fact, however, is that the Jewish authorities needed no help from the Romans to effect any arrest; we have met theories that the Jewish courts were beholden to Roman aid or consent for the execution of capital sentences, but no one has ever suggested that Roman aid or consent was wanted to carry out the arrest of a suspect pending trial.
THE JEWS HAD THE AUTHORITY TO ARREST JESUS WITHOUT ROMAN AID - Keith Hunt
It would appear, then, that Roman presence in the arrest of Jesus is at least prima-facie proof of Roman sponsoring: the Romans were not used or amenable to sending out their troops on the initiative of others. What followed renders the proof virtually conclusive. The arrest of Jesus was the first step in the proceedings to be held the next day in the court of the Roman governor: attention has been drawn by previous writers to the astounding fact that Pilate should have been ready to sit early the next morning,23 an unusual hour for a procurator to hear criminal cases; but his very readiness implies previous notice of the cause and of the man.24 For that, previous notice must have preceded the arrest: the governor would hardly be troubled with the intelligence at night. On the assumption, then, that the trial of Jesus before Pilate had been set down the day before at the latest, it is not material whether the governor himself had issued a warrant for Jesus to be brought and arraigned before him the next morning or whether the warrant had been made out by one of his subordinates: the tribune would not go to the place, or take his troops there, save by order of his superiors, and the order would not be given except for Roman purposes. Indeed, considering the high rank of the tribune, it has been asserted that the warrant must have come from the governor in person.25
PROBABLY INDEED THE JEWISH LEADERS HAD DONE THINGS SO JESUS WOULD GO BEFORE PILATE EARLY IN THE MORNING; THEIR PLAN AND DESIRE WAS TO HAVE ROMAN POWER GIVEN, TO HAVE JESUS CRUCIFIED - Keith Hunt
If Jesus was arrested on Roman initiative and by order of the governor in person or one given on his behalf, what were the Jewish temple police doing there? As there was no need for a guide or informer, like Judas, to have him tracked down, so was there none for help from them, either to detect or to seize him. Two main theories were propounded in explanation. One is that the Sanhedrin had previously issued a warrant of arrest (John 11:57), and that it was for its better or speedier execution that the Jewish authorities asked the governor to issue a second of his own.26 But the previous issue of a warrant by a Jewish court would not, in Roman eyes, have afforded the least reason for issuing a second, and Roman, one; on the contrary, the Roman authorities would rightly have held another warrant wholly superfluous. Furthermore, a wish of the Jewish authorities to see a Jew arrested would not in the slightest move the Romans to arrest him: first, they would have to be satisfied that the arrest was in the best Roman interests, and if it was, it would not normally be in the interests of the Jews. But let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the "commandment" given, according to John, by "chief priests and Pharisees," to whoever knew of Jesus' whereabouts to disclose them to the authorities so that "they might take him" (11:57) was in the nature of a warrant of arrest, and had in fact been issued by a competent Jewish authority. A "council meeting" reported by Mark and Matthew to have taken place two days before the feast of Passover, at which "the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death; but they said, not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people" (Mark 14:1-2; and similarly Matt. 26:3-5), would appear to be the very same meeting as reported in John (11:47-57), whereafter the said warrant was allegedly issued;27 though its timing varies in the Gospels, being predated in John to when Passover was "nigh at hand" (11:55). But while the account of the council proceedings in Mark is short and fragmentary, in John there is greater elaboration, thus phrased: "What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (11:47-48). The high priest suggested thereupon that it was "expedient" that one man should die rather than the whole nation perish (11:50; 18:14). Whatever may have been the council's apprehensions in respect of Jesus—and it appears that it feared his ever-rising popular support—it is entirely out of context that it would turn to the Romans: if its concern was lest he be the cause for the Romans to "come and take away" its office, as no longer enjoying the people's trust, it is hardly to the Romans that it would hasten to be rid of him. The first question which the councilors would be asked would be what was the ground for issuing the warrant to arrest Jesus; and if they had no better answer than the truth, they would certainly be thrown out instanter. On the other hand, to invent a better—that is, a Roman —ground for arrest, they need not, and could not, rely on their own warrant, which, in the nature of things and in view of the limits of Jewish jurisdiction, must have been issued on other grounds. Furthermore, it appears from Mark (14:1-2) that the council's deliberations and resolutions were of a conspiratorial nature; how, then, would the councilors go to the Romans and so give their plot a publicity which they could no longer control? And, finally, it is said in Mark (14:2) that they had better wait until after the feast, to avoid public protestations; how, then, would they go to the Romans on the very eve and insist that Jesus be arrested at once?
The second theory was "that the arrest ordered by Pilate was provoked by the Jews, but that Pilate, who was on bad terms with the Jewish authorities, was able to insist, although he followed their suggestions, that they should not lead him into a trap."28 His insistence was not only that Jewish police should take part in the arrest, but also that the Jewish court should hold a pretrial—all this to make sure that the Roman governor would not be "led into a trap," and it was to demonstrate sincerity and good faith that the Jewish authorities made compliance.
But any such theory presupposes that the Jewish authorities, anxious as they were to see Jesus arrested, could not have it done without the concurrence or fiat of the Roman governor, a presupposition which, as we saw, is factually misconceived. It is true that if Pilate issued his warrant at that instance, he could well attach all sorts of conditions to it, even that of active Jewish part in the arrest; but there is nothing, not even the council resolutions mentioned, to justify the assumption that Pilate acted upon a Jewish petition in ordering the arrest. That he was "on bad terms" with the Jewish authorities is a slight understatement: we have observed that he would never respond to Jewish prompting unless he was satisfied in his own mind that to do so was in the best Roman interest; if he were satisfied, prior Jewish prompting was irrelevant; if he were not, it became a nuisance. In any event, he would not rely on any "sincerity" or "good faith" on the part of the Jews, or be interested in such virtues; and the possibility that the Jews would or could "lead him into a trap" would not enter his mind; it was not they whom he served but only and exclusively himself. The least suspicion of insincerity, in the sense of a possible disservice to the Romans or the possible value-lessness, from the Roman point of view, of the action sought, would have induced Pilate to dismiss the matter out of hand, and there would be no opportunity for him to make conditions.
We are thus left with the fact that the order for the arrest of Jesus was made by the Romans, and that a tribune with his cohort was sent to carry it out. No Jewish instigation behind that Roman order has been proved or can be reasonably assumed. The presence of Jewish temple police at the time and place of arrest cannot be explained by any Roman instruction or requirement. Only one possible explanation remains, and that is that they were permitted to be present at their own asking.
There must have been a cogent reason for their being instructed to ask the Roman authorities, presumably the tribune in charge, for that permission: they would not be eager to be present just for the doubtful edification of it. Nor may we underrate the import of a decision to detach a contingent of temple police for duty outside the temple precincts on a night such as this, when city and sanctuary overflowed with visitors from all parts of the country and all manpower was required to maintain peace and order. There was surely a momentous interest at stake if the Jewish authorities deemed it imperative to send a temple police unit on this kind of mission at this particular hour. What their purpose was will become plain as we study subsequent events.
It was but natural that, on his arrest by Roman troops, Jesus would be taken into Roman custody. We know that the Romans had places of detention in Jerusalem (Acts 23:10), and there was no reason why he should not have been conducted there. (This, indeed, is so self-evident that one scholar, for this reason only, dismisses the entire story of Jesus being brought into the home of the high priest, and suggests that he spent the night in Roman custody and was arraigned before Pilate the next morning.)29 If Jesus was not held in Roman custody, it was because he had been handed over to the Jewish temple police, and it must have been at the instance of their commander that the tribune agreed to leave Jesus in Jewish custody. To ask for this was nothing out of the ordinary: local prisons may well have served the Romans, too, and it would not matter much to the tribune where his prisoner was locked up.
The undertaking of the temple police commander to deliver Jesus the next morning at the Roman governor's courthouse would suffice: breach of it would be bound to cost the temple police not only their precious competences but their very existence, and for their commander would be virtual suicide. It is probable, also, that the Romans knew from previous experience that they could rely on such an undertaking, and it might be that they preferred the use of local prisons for Jewish prisoners so as to avoid the many dietary and other complications of looking after them.
So permission for the temple police to be present at the arrest was sought with a view to getting the Roman officer in command to agree to their taking Jesus into Jewish custody pending his trial before the Roman governor.
AS THE GOSPELS SAYS THE JEWISH LEADERS MET AND PLANNED HOW THEY MIGHT TAKE HIM BY CRAFT….. CAREFUL PLANNING WAS DONE, WHICH INCLUDED THE ROMAN POWER, SO IN THE END, MAKING IT LOOK LIKE ROME WAS CRUCIFYING JESUS. NO DOUBT IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS OF JESUS' LIFE, THE JEWISH LEADERS HAD BEEN ORGANIZING THEIR PLAN; THIS WAS NOT A WIM OF THE MOMENT UNDERTAKING, BUT CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT - Keith Hunt
When this was conceded, they thereupon took Jesus not into prison,30 but into the mansion of the high priest: a wholly unprecedented move, and one, it may be presumed, altogether unexpected by the Romans, which can be explained only on the assumption that the temple police were under orders from the high priest himself to bring him there. It would, then, also be the high priest by whose bidding a unit of the temple police was detached that night for the special duty: he must have known of the warrant of arrest issued against Jesus, and that the arrest would be carried out not later than that night so that arragnment before Pilate might proceed early the next morning; and he must have been concerned to have Jesus brought to him and not taken into Roman custody. This concern was, it would seem, so grave and so pressing as to justify and require the diversion of the temple police from their many and urgent responsibilities within the temple precincts that night. It could hardly have been an easy decision to make, psychologically: it implied a directive from the high priest to the temple police commander to address himself with some humble plea to a Roman tribune, a procedure certain to be intensely distasteful to the commander no less than to the high priest—whether or not they could be reasonably sure that such a plea would be granted. But if any of these considerations counted with them, they were far outweighed by the seemingly paramount importance of the purpose in hand.
ALL OF THIS ALSO MAY HAVE BEEN PLANNED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE "CRAFT" THEY ARE REPORTED TO HAVE USED TO ARREST AND HAVE JESUS KILLED - Keith Hunt
It appears that the high priest's orders had to do with Jesus only: it was Jesus who was to be taken to the priestly residence, not any of his disciples or attendants. It would, however, be very surprising, if the desire really was to arrest Jesus and have him punished for dangerous dissemination of unorthodox and nonconformist doctrine, that his disciples, confessed instruments and organs in spreading that doctrine, should be let go free to teach what and where and whom they pleased. Had the intention been to put Jesus on trial for heresy or nonconformity or messianic aspirations, nothing would have been accomplished by laying hands on him alone: his teachings had already found a wide and enthusiastic audience, and disciples had been schooled to continue where, and if, he had to stop. To be reasonably effective, any action against him had also to be taken simultaneously against his disciples, as, indeed, happened some years later, when Peter was brought to trial and "the other apostles" were charged and tried together with him (Acts 5:18, 29). But the high priest, and hence the temple police, were not interested in the disciples or attendants: they were looking only for Jesus.
WITH THE MINDSET OF HATRED TOWARDS A POPULAR MIRACLE WORKING MAN, SUCH AS JESUS, THE MIND CAN BECOME CONSUMED WITH SUCH A DESIRE TO HAVE HIM KILLED, IT DOES NOT EVEN TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION, HIS DISCIPLES COULD CARRY ON THE WORK STARTED BY HIM. EMOTIONS AND A FOCUSSED MINDSET ON ONE PARTICULAR GOAL, BLINDS THE MIND TO ALL OTHER THINGS - Keith Hunt
Still more surprising, and, indeed, at first sight inexplicable, would it be that the disciple who "stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear" (Matt. 26:51; similarly Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50; John 18:10) should not have been seized there and then by the temple police, even though, by miraculous doing of Jesus, no further harm might have befallen him (Luke 22:51) .31 It is reported in John that one of the high priest's servants identified Peter as the one who had cut off the man's ear (18:26), yet he was allowed to go free as a matter of course, and nobody bothered to detain him (Matt. 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:62). (That all the disciples had declared solemnly that they would go with Jesus unto death [Mark 14:31] did not prevent them from forsaking him; but there is no indication in any Gospel report that any ill would have come to them even if they had not "denied" him.)
AGAIN A FOCUSSED MINDSET ON ONE PARTICULAR EVENT THEY WANTED TO HAPPEN, PUSHES ASIDE ANY OTHER EVENTS OR HAPPENINGS THAT ARE GOING ON, WHILE THE GOAL IS REACHED. IT IS PART OF THE HUMAN MIND THAT ACTS THIS WAY, WHEN CONSUMED WITH HATE AND A GOAL TO KILL; IT ONLY CONCERNS ITSELF WITH THE ONE AIM, AND CARRYING OUT THE CRAFTY PLAN THEY WERE ALL INVOLVED IN - Keith Hunt
The simple reason for all this is that the high priest had given strict instructions to have Jesus, and nobody else, brought into his presence, and those the temple police faithfully obeyed. The Roman officer, on his part, equally had no warrant of arrest against anybody except Jesus: it was Jesus alone who was to stand trial before the governor on the morrow. But it is significant, and throws some light on the general attitude of the Romans toward indigenous concerns, that violence committed against a Jewish policeman, even in the presence of Roman troops and their officer, would not move them to action. Whether they thought that it was a matter for the Jewish police to take care of, or even rather enjoyed this sort of domestic fracas, they did not feel beholden to intervene. Nor are the temple police reported to have done anything: they may have been impressed, and satisfied, with Jesus' reprimand that "all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26:52), or with his piety and mercy when he said, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11); or so preoccupied with the urgency of their purpose, which was to have Jesus given into their custody and brought into the high priest's home, that nothing else mattered to them at that moment. Their mildness toward the assailant may also reflect that while they may have known that Jesus was to be brought into the home of the high priest himself, and with no hostile intent, his disciples, perhaps fearing lest he be thrown into jail and mishandled, may have given vent to their helpless anger. If Peter indeed was the assailant, he must have felt confident that he would suffer no hurt; he would not otherwise venture to follow Jesus into the high priest's home (John 18:15), after first declining to enter (18:16).
Because of these incongruities, the historicity of the whole incident has been doubted,32 but the tradition, common to all the Gospels, lends itself to acceptable interpretation if it is assumed that the temple police had no business at the arrest of Jesus except to get him out of Roman custody as quickly and unobtrusively as possible and into the presence of the high priest, and that nothing else was of consequence.33
ONCE MORE COHN INTERJECTS WITH PUTTING DOUBTS ABOUT THE ACCURACY OF THE GOSPELS, REGARDING ALL THESE EVENTS. EVEN HE ALUDES TO THE FACT THAT A MINDSET ON ONE AIM, BLOTS OUT ALL OTHER THINGS TAKING PLACE, AS HE STATES "NOTHING ELSE WAS OF CONSEQUENCE" - AND SO IT WAS, THIS ARREST AND PLAN OF MURDER TOWARDS JESUS WAS THE MAIN AIM, AND INDEED NOTHING ELSE WAS OF CONSEQUENCE - Keith Hunt
Jesus was "led away" to the high priest's house (Matt. 26:57; Mark 14:53; Luke 22:54). There is no mention in the Synoptic Gospels of the chains or shackles that usually figured in the arrest of a suspected criminal. Only according to John was Jesus "bound" before being "led away" to Annas (18:12) and again sent "bound" from the house of Annas to the high priest's (18:24). It seems that the fourth evangelist could not conceive an arrested suspect led away unbound, and accordingly added this —for him self-evident—complementary detail.
COHN MAKES OUT JOHN WAS ADDING THINGS TO THE STORY FOR "BETTER PRESS" WE MIGHT SAY. HE DOES NOT BELIEVE ALL FOUR GOSPELS WERE INSPIRED AND TRUE IN EVERY WAY - Keith Hunt
Had there been any tradition of a bound or shackled Jesus, would any evangelist be likely to omit from his report that further act of Jewish humiliation, that further suffering of Jesus? All would rather have made the most of it, another and not unimportant item to substantiate their charges of Jewish cruelty.
THE OTHER THREE GOSPEL WRITERS WERE NOT INSPIRED TO WRITE ABOUT THE SHACKLING OF JESUS….. COHN BELIEVES IT NEVER HAPPENED BECAUSE THREE OF THE FOUR DO NOT MENTION IT. NOT ALL REPORTERS GIVE EVERY DETAIL OF AN ACCOUNT AS CAN BE SEEN FROM WATCHING THREE OR FOUR TV NEWS PROGRAMS COVERING THE SAME EVENT. BUT NOT BELIEVING ALL FOUR GOSPELS WERE INSPIRED, YOU CAN DO WHAT COHN DOES WITH THE GOSPELS, I.E. THREE AGAINST ONE….. THREE WIN, THE FOURTH IS THROWN OUT - Keith Hunt
Arguing, then, ex silentio, we have it on the authority of the evangelists that Jesus was led away unfettered, that he went with the temple police as if he were one of them.
THREE WIN, THE FOUTH IS OUT…. ACCORDING TO COHN - Keith Hunt
And when he arrived at the palace of the high priest, he was not taken into a lockup or a cellar, or placed in solitary confinement, and there is nothing in the Gospel reports pointing to any measures to prevent his escape or mark his status as a prisoner. He was led into the splendor of the palace, doubtless into the largest and stateliest of its halls, where all the councilors could assemble. And not Jesus alone would be led and seated there, but his disciples and attendants with him if they had but chosen to follow him in, not chosen to forsake him and flee (Matt. 26:56; Mark 14:50) or to "deny" him (Matt. 26:74; Mark 14:70-71).
The Roman tribune granted the petition of the temple police commander and gave Jesus into the custody of the Jewish authorities, pending his trial before the governor the next morning.
The temple police led him into the palace of the high priest, and there Jesus would find him and all the chief priests and elders of Israel foregathered. It was in the middle of the night, and the great feast of Passover was in the air and in everybody's mind.
What had transpired to make the high priest insist on having Jesus brought into his palace? What had actuated him to detach a unit of the temple police from exacting duties in the temple, just to have Jesus escorted into his presence? For what purpose had all the chief priests and elders and scribes and all the council come together in his house? Why was Jesus brought before that august synod at that time of night?
TO BE CONTINUED