IN THE HOUSE OF THE HIGH PRIEST #2
From the book "The Trial and Death of Jesus"
by the late Haim Cohn (Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel)
With the high priest and the Sanhedrin so circumstanced, with Jesus awaiting trial early the next morning before the Roman governor and the people unaware of it, what more natural than that they should assume that, if they were looked to for leadership, the people would expect them to take some action to prevent the trial and the possibly or probably resulting crucifixion? If the trial and crucifixion of a Jew by the Romans were an affront to the Jewish people, the trial and crucifixion of an outstanding Jew, one of the people's favorites, were an outrage which the people would surely not suffer quietly; and it was essential that the leaders should be able to come forward and satisfy the people that they not only had no hand or part in the proceedings but, on the contrary, had done everything in their power to avert the tragedy. Now the only way in which the Sanhedrin could possibly prevent the putting to death of Jesus was to bring about either his acquittal or a suspension of sentence subject to good behavior. For an acquittal, Jesus had first to be persuaded not to plead guilty to the charges, and then witnesses must be found to prove his innocence. For a suspension of sentence, if he were found guilty, he had to be persuaded to promise that he would not again engage in treasonable activity. No other way was open to the Sanhedrin, because Jesus—as we saw—had been given into the high priest's custody on an undertaking that he would be delivered for Roman trial the next morning, and a breach of that undertaking would have resulted in the temple police, and maybe the Sanhedrin, being stripped of their powers and competences. Once duly delivered to stand his trial, Jesus must conduct himself in such a manner, and evidence be provided for him to such effect, that either an acquittal or, at least, a suspended sentence would in all probability follow.
COHN MOVES ALONG WITH HIS FAIRY-TALE; TO HIM THE SANHEDRIN WAS THE REAL "GOOD GUYS" - THE ONES ON JESUS' SIDE. YOU TALK ABOUT PIE-IN-THE-SKY DREAMING, AND JUST IGNORING THE CLEAR GOSPEL RECORD, BUT THEN NOT BELIEVING THEY ARE INSPIRED, YOU CAN THROW OUT WHAT YOU THINK IS MADE-UP ACCOUNTS - Keith Hunt
It is true that the high priest might conceivably have done all this alone: have talked to Jesus himself and have himself sent out his emissaries to look for witnesses. Indeed, the Johannine tradition is that it was the high priest (or his father-in-law) alone who questioned Jesus that night. But the high priest, head, as he was, of a very rich Sadducean family, could rightly have been apprehensive lest his personal influence on Jesus might not be strong enough to assure a reasonable prospect of success if he worked alone. Moreover, he took the hazard of not only failing to impress Jesus, but of being denounced by him to the Roman governor as seeking to interfere with the due process of justice, a denunciation which Jesus would never have made of the Sanhedrin, but which, it is possible, he would have had little compunction about making of the Roman-appointed high priest. The high priest may also have reflected that this was a matter for which the whole Sanhedrin should bear responsibility, more particularly if the law-abidingness of Jesus thereafter had in any way to be vouched for. And it was no small or inconsequential matter for the Jewish authorities to talk to a prisoner in technically Roman custody and awaiting trial under Roman law before the Roman governor, to the end of procuring acquittal or suspension of sentence: it was a clear meddling with Roman justice, unjustifiable perhaps from the Roman point of view, but, as it would seem, indicated, nay, even required, from the Jewish, only because of the prevailing political situation, that is, the popular resentment of Roman occupation and oppression and the concomitant resistance. In other words, this was in the nature of a political decision and answerability for it had better rest on the Sanhedrin as a whole. The fact that opinions within and without the Sanhedrin may have been divided as regards the personality and teachings of Jesus may have been another reason why the high priest chose not to act alone in taking a stand in his favor. He might even have felt himself incompetent to determine, in his own discretion, to what lengths he had to go to save Jesus, the merit or demerit of Jesus' teaching being, at least formally, outside his personal judgment.
COHN CONTINUES HIS SILLY IDEAS OF THE GOOD NATURED, "COME TO JESUS' DEFENCE" WITH THE HIGH PRIEST AND SANHEDRIN BEING OH SO WONDERFULLY GRACIOUS, TO COME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, TO TRY AND RESCUE JESUS FROM WHAT THE ROMAN COURT WOULD DO. HE ALSO GIVES WAY TOO MUCH EMPHASIS THAT IT WAS ALL ARRANGED BEFOREHAND, THAT JESUS WAS TO STAND TRIAL BEFORE PILATE. TO COHN IT WAS THE ROMANS BEHIND ALL THIS ANIMOSITY TOWARDS JESUS, AND THE JEWISH LEADERS….WELL THEY JUST LOVED HIM SO, LIKE ALL THE PEOPLE DID. AND THE JEWISH LEADERS WOULD SHOW THE PEOPLE THEY LOVED JESUS, BY A MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT MEETING IN THE HIGH PRIEST'S HOME, TO ENCOURAGE JESUS, AND DELIVER HIM FROM THE DREADFUL ROMANS - Keith Hunt
Thus it came about that in that festival night all the members of the Great Sanhedrin were suddenly bade to proceed forthwith to the high priest's palace: there would be a trial, early the next morning, before Pontius Pilate, the governor; Jesus - the popular preacher who taught in the temple and attracted such huge audiences, the same man who showed such mind the other day in the temple bazaar—has been arrested on a charge, it seems, of treason or sedition; temple police have succeeded in abstracting him into their custody for the night; if anything is to be done to save him, it must be done at once; and there can be no doubt that we must do everything to save him— it is a matter of life and death, which we must attend to even at night and even on a festive day;70 please come at once! And they all came, every one, unfailingly.
THE ROMANS ARRESTING JESUS ON TREASON OR SEDITION!! WHERE ON EARTH DOES COHN GET THAT FROM? YOU CAN'T FIND IT IN THE GOSPELS. JUDAS DID NOT TO GO THE ROMANS, BUT AGAIN COHN THROWS THAT SECTION OUT OF THE GOSPELS, AS HE DOES OTHER VERSES AND RECORDED HAPPENINGS; THEN HE COMES UP WITH HIS IDEA THAT IT WAS THE ROMANS WHO REALLY ARRESTED JESUS, TO BE TRIED IN THEIR COURT BEFORE PILATE; THE JEWISH SANHEDRIN COMING TOGETHER, SO KINDLY, SO HEARTFELT, SO IN LOVE WITH JESUS, AS TO WANT TO SAVE HIM FROM THE ROMANS. TALK ABOUT TURNING THINGS UP-SIDE-DOWN, BACK-TO-FRONT, HAIM COHN HAS JUST BEING DOING IT…..QUITE THE ARTIST AT DOING IT FOR SURE - Keith Hunt
The Gospels tells us that when they had assembled, the first thing was that they "sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death" (Matt. 26:59): that is to say, they had assembled to find him guilty of some crime and sentence him to death. But how could they do that by seeking "false" witnesses? To find him guilty, they would, one should think, have to seek true witnesses to testify against him! Not enough that the trial was prearranged and the death sentence predetermined; even the witnesses had to be "false," presumably to fill the cup of judicial perversion to the brim.
BUT WHY, IF THE SANHEDRIN WAS THERE TO SAVE JESUS FROM THE ROMANS, WHY FIND FALSE WITNESSES TO BEGIN WITH? IF YOU ARE TRYING TO SAVE SOMEONE, YOU WANT WITNESSES WHO ARE GOING TO BE ON JESUS' SIDE, WHO WILL TESTIFY HE WAS NOT GUILTY OF TREASON OR SEDITION. YOU WANT WITNESSES WHO COULD GO BEFORE PILATE TO TESTIFY THERE WAS NOTHING IN JESUS' WORK AS A PREACHER OF GOD, THAT WAS ANYWHERE CLOSE TO PLANNING TREASON AND/OR SEDITION AGAINST ROME - Keith Hunt
In this as in many other respects, the author of the Gospel of Matthew outdid the author of the Gospel of Mark: in Mark we read that they "sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together" (14:55-56).
THERE IT IS IN MARK….. THE SANHEDRIN WAS LOOKING FOR WITNESSES THAT WOULD BRING FORTH SUCH EVIDENCE, SO JESUS COULD BE PUT TO DEATH. THAT DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THE SANHEDRIN WAS LOVEY LOVEY TOWARDS JESUS, BUT JUST THE OPPOSITE - Keith Hunt
Meaning that they sought witnesses, not necessarily false, but preferably true, but all that came forward and testified proved to be false, in that their testimonies did not "agree together." It seems that all the witnesses against Jesus had to be "false," so as to lay the foundations for subsequent allegations of judicial murder,71 but then the Gospels themselves proceed to found his conviction entirely on a confession of so-called blasphemy; the false witnesses—presumably because of their falsity—are discarded as instrumental in the verdict.
COHN ADMITS THE FOUNDING OF THE CONVICTION FOR DEATH, WAS "ENTIRELY ON A CONFESSION OF SO-CALLED 'BLASPHEMY.'" BUT JUST A MINUTE, IF THE SANHEDRIN WAS TRYING TO SAVE JESUS, WHY DID THEY END UP CONVICTING HIM? WHY CALL WITNESSES OF ANY KIND, UNLESS YOU WANT SOME WHO CAN CLAIM BEFORE PILATE, JESUS HAD NO SEDITION OR ANYTHING IN HIS TEACHING AND MIND, AS TO DESIRE TO OVERTHROW ROME, AND PUT HIMSELF UP AS KING - Keith Hunt
On the face of the Gospel stories, the episode of the witnesses is completely unintelligible: Jesus himself had pointed out that he had always spoken "openly to the world" (John 18:20) and taught in the temple and in the synagogues "where the Jews always resort" (ibid.); "all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple for to hear him" (Luke 21:38); thousands must have listened to him teach and preach, and many of them could, without any great effort, be made available to testify exactly what his teachings and his preachings were.
Such could not be labeled "false" witnesses, nor would they have contradicted one another, because the sayings of Jesus had left an imprint on people's minds and would have been rehearsed countless times by and among them. Indeed, the specific "false" testimony recorded in the Gospels, namely, as to Jesus' words that he would rebuild the destroyed temple within three days (Mark 14:58; Matt. 26:61), actually appears to refer to an utterance by him in public in the temple (John 2:i9),72 and there is no reason why it should not have been accepted as true, for what it might be worth as incriminating evidence. It comes to this, then, that the Sanhedrin sought "false" witnesses to testify against Jesus, but could not find any; the witnesses appearing and testifying before it were true witnesses, but were proved false, because they would not "agree together"; and whether they were false or true, and whether they agreed together or not, no attempt was made to rely on their testimonies in any way; nor are we given any hint or intimation of the points on which they failed to "agree together," or the manner of their disagreement, or why it was that they were first "sought" and inexplicably abandoned in the end.
COHN ADMITS THE WITNESS ACCOUNTS "ARE UNINTELLIGIBLE" - IT DIDN'T MAKE SENSE TO HAVE THEM, IF THE SANHEDRIN WAS THERE TO HELP JESUS. SO BECAUSE THE SANHEDRIN WAS TRYING TO HELP JESUS, THE GOSPEL WRITERS MADE UP THE "FALSE WITNESS" SCENARIO TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THE SAHEDRIN WAS AGAINST JESUS. BUT IN THE END JESUS WAS STILL CONDEMNED FOR BLASPHEMY! BUT WHY CONDEMN HIM FOR ANYTHING IF YOU LOVED HIM AND WANTED TO SAVE HIM FROM THE ROMANS? WHY BOTHER GOING ANYWHERE CLOSE TO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT CONDEMN A PERSON, IF YOU WERE JUST THERE TO DO YOUR UTTERMOST TO SAVE HIM FROM THE COURT OF ROME? I GUESS COHN JUST THROWS OUT ANYTHING THAT WOULD ROCK HIS IDEAS, OF THE SANHEDRIN BEING SWEET, NICE, LOVEABLE TOWARDS JESUS - Keith Hunt
We shall accept it as a fact, and start from the premise, that the Sanhedrin which assembled that night in the high priest's house did "seek for witnesses." As we said, it could not, even at that time of night, have encountered any difficulty in finding a good number of people able and willing to testify about Jesus' public teachings and preachings. But it did not need any such testimony for its own information, or to have any specific allegation against Jesus proved or disproved: not only was there nothing of the kind against him before it, but its members can reasonably be presumed to have been familiar with his teachings, if only from hearsay. What the Sanhedrin needed was a finding that the witnesses who had come forward to testify against Jesus were false ones, men who could not be relied upon and who had not "agreed together": it was not that they were unreliable and untruthful—on the contrary, they presumably were truthful and reliable; it was that they had to be pronounced, formally and solemnly, as false witnesses. It was altogether irrelevant to what particular teaching or deed or saying of Jesus they would testify: it happened to be the destruction and rebuilding of the temple; it could as well have been any other of his prophecies or parables.
What mattered was that, to whatever item they would testify, they ought not to "agree together" so as to warrant a finding that they were "false" and unreliable.
The question whether, and to what extent, a witness is truthful and his evidence credible is, in every case, to a very large degree determined as a matter of impression and discretion of the trial judge or jury. If, that night, the Sanhedrin had indeed been resolved in advance "to put Jesus to death," nothing would have been easier than to find the witnesses testifying against him truthful and reliable and "agreeing together," and extract from their evidence a capital offense that would serve its purpose. But it simply does not make sense that, though resolved in advance "to put Jesus to death," it dismissed the witnesses testifying against him as "false," without even troubling to inquire whether their testimonies did or did not disclose a criminal offense. The inevitable conclusion is either that the Sanhedrin was not resolved in advance to put Jesus to death at all or that it did not dismiss the witnesses as "false," or that both these things were so: if it dismissed the witnesses as "false," it did so because it wanted to, and because, for its own true purpose, it did not need the evidence of any witness. The purpose was to provide Jesus with a judicial finding that all witnesses who had come forward to testify against him had been proved false and unreliable. Such a finding of the Sanhedrin was not, of course, in any way binding on the Roman governor; but there was always the chance that the evidence available against Jesus before the governor would not be strong and conclusive, in which case a Sanhedrial finding that witnesses against him had been forthcoming before the Jewish courts also and dismissed as untrustworthy might well turn the scales in his favor. The Sanhedrin could, in the circumstances, and in view of Jesus' popularity, be reasonably confident that Jewish witnesses would not volunteer to give evidence against him before the governor; there remained the possibility that Roman agents had overheard Jesus' speeches in the temple or in the synagogues, and, as against their evidence, there might be some force in the Sanhedrial finding that witnesses who had testified to some seditious content in those speeches had been proved false. The very fact that witnesses had come forward before the Jewish courts, too, to testify against him might raise the suspicion that Jesus was the object of persecution for private and ulterior motives, and the finding of perjury would strengthen that suspicion considerably.
A criminal court, under Jewish law, had to satisfy itself of the reliability of witnesses and of their "agreeing together" by directing to them certain questions which the law laid down, as, for instance, on what day, at what hour, and in what place the event to which they testified had happened. From the Gospel reports, it does not appear that any such obligatory examinations were conducted before the witnesses were found "false." If, being examined as to the date of a speech of Jesus to which they had testified, one gave one date and a second another, that would, in law, suffice for the rejection of the evidence of both, however irrelevant the date might appear to the issue whether the speech contained any illegal matter. All the same, the Gospel reports do not exclude the possibility that such examinations were duly conducted: "their witness agreed not together" (Mark 14:56) and "But neither so did their witness agree together" (14:59) presuppose some examination to find out whether or not the testimonies were inter-consistent. Anyhow, statutory examination of witnesses was not confined to the obligatory questions, and the more a judge pressed it, the better would it be. This power of further questioning is especially required in the case of witnesses who "agreed together" on the obligatory questions, for it would be easy for perjurers to have concerted answers to those questions ready in advance; it is really only by surprise questions that discrepancies are likely to be detected. In contrast to the obligatory questions, those put in supplementary examination are in the judge's discretion: he must choose the line that fits the demeanor and reactions of the individual witness under questioning, and he may draw from the way in which the witness behaves and reacts his own conclusions as to the truthfulness of the answers.74
COHN GIVES US A LONG RAMBLING DISCOURSE ON "WITNESSES" - FROM A LEGAL COURT FRAMEWORK. ALL MAYBE INTERESTING AND EDIFYING FROM A NORMAL FRAME COURT PROCEEDINGS. BUT THE SANHEDRIN, WE ARE TOLD, DESPITE THE ULTIMATE USELESSNESS OF THESE WITNESSES, STILL FOUND JESUS GUILTY OF BLASPHEMY! AND SO UNDER JEWISH LAW, THE DEATH PENALTY COULD BE ENACTED. COULD BE THE VERSE THAT TELLS US THEY FOUND HIM GUILTY OF BLASPHEMY, COHN THROWS OUT ALONG WITH OTHER VERSES OF THE GOSPELS. BUT THE GOSPELS BEING INSPIRED, THAT VERSE IS THERE, AND CONTRADICTS COHN'S IDEA THAT THE SANHEDRIN WAS THERE TO SAVE JESUS FROM DEATH. YOU DON'T MEET TO SAVE SOMEONE FROM DEATH, THEN CONDEMN THEM FOR A CRIME WORTHY OF DEATH, AND THEN GO BACK TO TRYING TO SAVE THE PERSON FROM DEATH - Keith Hunt
That the Sanhedrin found that the testimonies of witnesses did not "agree together" is nothing extraordinary: many accused persons must have been acquitted for the same reason. But, contrary to the traditional thinking, there is no reflection, in a finding of this sort, on the witnesses: they may be perfectly honest people testifying in the best of faith, and the inconsistencies which marred their evidence may have been due to natural and unavoidable shortcomings of the human memory. To have all been found "false" proves nothing against the witnesses who testified against Jesus before the Sanhedrin, but it proves something in regard to the court. Whereas one court would use its power to pursue examinations to try to smooth out minor inconsistencies, as in modern "re-examination," so as in the end to find the witness reliable and convict the accused, another would do everything it could, in that use, to multiply inconsistencies, so as in the end to find the witness unreliable and acquit him. This, apparently, is what happened here: the witnesses all said of Jesus, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark 14:58), without any discrepancy between their stories being reported, yet the court found that "neither so did their witness agree together" (14:59), though, on the face of it, that witness agreed perfectly. The court exercised a discretion: to attain its ultimate purpose, it found some natural and minor inconsistencies—which did not have to be reported—enough to reject the evidence as false. It does not matter whether, in exercising that discretion and making that deliberate and intentional choice, some of the members of the Sanhedrin were, perhaps, also anxious to reassure their own consciences that in fact no valid evidence was available to incriminate Jesus, or whether they only wanted to be able to certify and attest that the witnesses who had testified against him had perjured themselves.
IF YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE, KNOWING THEY COULD FACE GRAVE REPERCUSSION FROM THE ROMAN COURT, YOU WOULD THINK THEY WOULD HAVE JUST BEEN INTERESTED IN THOSE WHO SPOKE HIGHLY OF JESUS; WHO WOULD HAVE SAID THEY NEVER GOT ANY INDICATION IN ANYTHING JESUS HAD SAID, TO INDICATE HE WAS PLOTTING AGAINST ROME, TO CAPTURE THE THRONE FOR HIMSELF. IF YOU WERE REALLY WANTING WITNESSES TO HELP AND MAYBE APPEAR BEFORE THE ROMAN COURT, TO TESTIFY JESUS WAS A GOOD CITIZEN UNDER ROME, AHD NO SEDITION OR ANY PLANS TO OVERTHROW ROME, YOU WOULD HAVE DEARLY WANTED JESUS' DISCIPLES TO HAVE COME FORTH, THEY WERE WITH HIM FOR 3 AND 1/2 YEARS. IF THE SANHEDRIN WAS TRYING TO SAVE JESUS FROM WHAT ROME COULD DO TO HIM, THEY COULD HAVE DONE NO BETTER THAN TO USE JESUS' DISCIPLES. BUT WE HEAR NOT ONE WORD OF THIS IN THE GOSPELS - Keith Hunt
While, under Jewish law, the admissible and reliable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses, and of two witnesses who had warned the accused of the punishability of his offense, was a sine qua non for any criminal conviction,75 under Roman law the nonavailability of witnesses did not suffice to warrant an acquittal: the accused could always be convicted of his plea of guilty,76 even where no witnesses were called or were forthcoming. Since the trial before Pilate would go forward under Roman law, it would not suffice to put potential witnesses out of action or impugn their credibility: it was much more important to dissuade Jesus from pleading guilty and so prevent his conviction upon his own confession.
SO COHN NOW PUTS AWAY THE "WITNESS STUFF" AND ZEROS IN ON JESUS, BECAUSE UNDER ROMAN LAW JESUS COULD BE CONVICTED BY HIS OWN WORDS - Keith Hunt
Wherefore Jesus had not only to be instructed what and how to reply to questions which would be put to him in the governor's court, but also, and first of all, persuaded to cooperate with the Sanhedrin. We must assume that Jesus knew of his impending hearing before Pontius Pilate: if he had not known it before, his arrest by Roman troops could not have left him in any doubt. We shall also assume that he knew, or took it for granted, that the Sanhedrin had nothing against him, to put it at its lowest: if he had not been aware of that all along, the examination of witnesses in his hearing and the branding of them as "false" and unreliable must have removed the last doubt. But he was no less conscious of his own immense popularity and of the shaky posture of the high priest and the Sanhedrin internally as well as externally and well informed enough to make his own appraisals. He would not, therefore, have harbored any fancies that The Sanhedrin's attitude toward him was born of pure neighborly love: he would have guessed the egoistically political motivation behind it and naturally have weighed in his mind his own religious and messianic concerns as against general Jewish and Sanhedrial politics His own 'religious and messianic concerns" may have included a resolute and preconceived expectancy toward his peril and ultimate fate in a trial before the Roman governor. And, on the part of the Sanhedrin, "persuading Jesus to cooperate" meant not only inducing him to plead not guilty and to promise Pilate to be of good behaviour but also - and perhaps mainly - making him forsake his own "religious and messianic concerns," insofar as they were incompatible with Sanhedrial sanctions: the Jewish leadership could not be expected to vouch for Jesus before the Roman governor unless he were ready and willing at least to bow to its authority and assure it of his loyalty.
MY WHAT REASONING FROM COHN; THE SANHEDRIN IS ON JESUS' SIDE; THEY WANT HIM TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY; THEY WANT HIM TO TELL PILATE HE WILL BE OF GOOD BEHAVIOR. THEY NEED TO HAVE JESUS ON THEIR SIDE IF THEY ARE GOING TO HELP HIM - TRYING TO PERSUADE HIM NOT TO INCRIMINATE HIMSELF BEFORE THE ROMAN COURT. AS COHN PUTS IT, "THE JEWISH LEADERSHIP COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO VOUCH FOR JESUS BEFORE THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT UNLESS HE WERE READY AND WILLING AT LEAST TO BOW TO ITS AUTHORITY AND ASSURE IT OF HIS LOYALTY." I CHALLENGE YOU TO FIND ANY SUCH IDEAS AND WORDS SPOKEN IN THIS REGARD IN THE GOSPELS. TRY TO FIND WORDS LIKE "PLEASE PLEAD NOT GUILTY BEFORE PILATE." "WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU." "WE ARE ON YOUR SIDE, WE WANT TO SAVE YOU FROM THE ROMAN COURT AND PENALTY IT MAY IMPOSE ON YOU." "WE WANT YOU TO SAY YOU TRUST US, ARE FAVORABLE TO US." WE WANT YOU TO SAY YOU BOW TO OUR AUTHORITY AND ASSURE US OF YOUR LOYALTY, THEN WE CAN GO TO BAT FOR YOU." "WHERE ARE YOUR DISCIPLES, CALL THEM TO COME; LET THEM ASSURE US YOU HAVE NO SEDITION AGAINST ROME" - Keith Hunt
Jesus' loyalty and goodwill could not be established negatively by the absence of trustworthy incriminating evidence. It had to be established positively, out of his own mouth. Hence his interrogation by the high priest himself: its purpose was to persuade him to accept the Sanhedrin's authority and desist from dangerous pretensions.77
NOTICE THE LAST SENTENCE! THE COMING TOGETHER OF THE SANHEDRIN WAS TO "INTERROGATE BY THE HIGH PRIEST HIMSELF: ITS PURPOSE WAS TO PERSUADE HIM TO ACCEPT THE SANHEDRIN'S AUTHORITY AND DESIST FROM DANGEROUS PRETENSIONS." IT'S LIKE, "WE WANT YOU TO PUT AWAY ANY SEDITION, ANY IDEA OF OVERTHROWING ROME, ANY IDEA OF BECOMING KING OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE." "WE WANT YOU TO SAY YOU ARE LOYAL TO US." "WE WANT YOU TO SAY YOU ARE UNDER OUR AUTHORITY." "WILL YOU BRING FORTH YOUR DISCIPLES TO VERIFY YOU HAVE AND NEVER HAVE HAD, ANY THOUGHTS OR PLANS TO OVERTHROW ROME, AND BECOME KING OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE" - TRY TO FIND ANY WORDS IN THE GOSPELS THAT COME ANYWHERE CLOSE TO ANY OF THIS - THEY ARE NOT THERE - Keith Hunt
So long as the "false" witnesses testified against him, Jesus answered nothing, but "held his peace" (Mark 14:61; Matt. 26:63), though he was seemingly expected, and entitled, to cross-examine and rebut them. But since they were speaking the truth, his intervention would have been pointless. It was when the high priest started questioning him that he first reacted. Asked whether he was "Christ, the Son of the Blessed" (Mark 14:61), Jesus admitted that he was (14:62) and added:"and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (ibid, and Matt. 26:64). According to Matthew, the question of the high priest was in the following terms: "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God" (26:63); according to Luke, Jesus was simply asked, not necessarily by the high priest: "Art thou the Christ? tell us" (22:67). It has been shown that the references in Matthew to the "Son of God" and in Mark to the "Son of the Blessed" must be interpolations78 from a time when the dogma of the divine descent of Jesus had already been introduced into Christian belief.79
COHN BELIEVES MANY WORDS IN THE GOSPELS BY SOMEONE, WERE ADDED LATER, NOT REALLY THERE IN THE ACTUAL LIFE AND WORDS OF CHRIST; HE DOES NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPELS WERE DIVINELY INSPIRED - Keith Hunt
We shall, therefore, take as the true tradition that recorded in Luke, "Art thou the Christ? tell us," to which Jesus is said there to have answered: "If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God" (22:67-69).
SO COHN THROWS OUT THE WORDS MARK AND MATTHEW GIVE AS NOT THERE IN THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS, BUT ADDED LATER BY SOMEONE - Keith Hunt
We do not know whether this was the sole question asked of Jesus by the high priest, or whether the high priest had questioned him before as to his teachings, opinions, and intentions in general, as would appear from John 18:19. If he had the question recorded in the Gospels may have been the last of a series in a more prolonged examination; Jesus may have answered them specifically, in which case his answers seem not to have aroused any disdain; or he may have reacted in a manner similar to that reported in John: "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said" (18:20-21). Be that as it may, his reply to the last question, "Art thou the Christ?," apparently led the high priest and the Sanhedrin to give up in despair. Before we inquire into the reasons why they did, let us consider the question and the reply themselves.
TO COHN THEY GAVE UP IN DESPAIR, BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT HIM TO INCRIMINATE HIMSELF BEFORE ROME; THEY WANTED TO SAVE HIM FROM ROMAN PUNISHMENT; THEY WERE ON HIS SIDE, WANTING TO HELP HIM - Keith Hunt
It has been said that the claim to be Christ, sitting at God's right hand in heaven, was an admission of blasphemy in Jewish law, amounting to a denial of the fundamental principle of monotheism which would not, ex definitione, brook a divine being besides God.80 But by asserting that, as Christ or Messiah, he would be privileged in heaven to sit at God's right hand, Jesus did not in any way infringe the oneness of God. It might be different if he had actually claimed to be the Son of God; but, as we have noted, any such claim put into his mouth by the evangelist must be rejected as a later interpolation.81
YA TO COHN SUCH WORDS WERE ADDED LATER IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY BY SOMEONE ELSE. AS THEY SAY, YOU CAN PROVE ANYTHING BY THE BIBLE, JUST THROW OUT WHAT WOULD NULLIFY YOUR THEOLOGY - Keith Hunt
According to what may be regarded as Jesus' own words, peacemakers "shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9), and so "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven," you must "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (5:44-45). It is the great reward of doing good that "ye shall be the children of the Highest" (Luke 6:35). In the sense in which Jesus employed the metaphor "children of God," the terms "Son of God" or "Son of the Blessed" may also bear a purely allegorical as distinct from a biological meaning, and indicate the chosen rather than the natural son. In this respect, there would not be much difference between the Christ—or Messiah—and the Son of God: the Christ was chosen by God as His messenger or prophet. The Greek Khristos is a translation of the Hebrew Mashiah (Messiah), signifying the anointed. Not only the Messiah but all God's favorites are anointed, such as priests,82 kings,83 prophets,84 and even holy places and chattels.85 The anointing may be a mark of divine distinction, but it is a distinction conferred on human beings, and by its very nature not at all apt for divinity. It is a human being who is chosen by God to serve Him, or inspired by God to prophesy, or to whom God has revealed Himself, and it is a human being whom God would love as His son. That, in the original tradition, Jesus was a son of God only in this figurative sense seems to be borne out by his genealogy as recorded in the Gospels (Matt. 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-38).
COHN DOES NOT BELIEVE JESUS EVER CLAIMED TO BE GOD, OR SON OF GOD IN THE VERY LITERAL SENSE. BUT THE GOSPELS MAKE IT VERY CLEAR JESUS DID CLAIM TO BE THE VERY SON OF GOD IN THE LITERAL SENSE; BUT COHN REJECTS THOSE VERSES AS BEING LATER ADDED BY SOME CHRISTIAN, SOMETIME LATER IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY - Keith Hunt
As for the "Son of Man," that may simply be a translation of the Hebrew Ben Adam, meaning man (literally, "son of Adam," the first man), or the title by which God addressed some of His prophets, Ezekiel, for example, or an allusion to the Son of Man whom Daniel announced as arriving on the clouds of heaven and entering upon "a dominion which shall not pass away and a kingdom which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:13-14) ,86 It has been pointed out that "Son of man" is a self-appellation used exclusively by Jesus and of himself.87
The Synoptists are themselves witnesses confirming this usage as a historical fact, as they never by any chance allow the term to glide into their own language. Even to the evangelists themselves it did not seem to be a regular messianic title. . . . Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nissa, Gregory Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, as well as Tertullian, Ambrose, Cyprian, Augustine, with one consent, though in variously conceived modes, have seen in this title a reference to the human side of the descent of Jesus.88
HE WAS THE SON OF MAN, FOR HE WAS ALSO BESIDES BEING DIVINE, GOD IN THE FLESH, HE WAS MOST DEFINITELY FLESH AND BLOOD, AS IT IS WRITTEN, TEMPTED IN ALL POINTS AS WE ARE, BUT NEVER SINNING. JESU KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE HUMAN; HENCE AS WE ARE TOLD HE CAN BE A FAITHFUL HIGH PRIEST ON OUR BEHALF IN HEAVEN - Keith Hunt
Speaking of himself as son of man, he desired to be known as son of a man: there could have been no clearer or better repudiation of any claim to divinity. When Jesus said to his disciples, speaking of himself, "that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins" "they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men" (Matt. 9:6-8), the specific reason for marvelling, and for glorifying God, being that not only God, but a human being, could forgive sins. It is true that the style "Son of man" in itself, and when Jesus uses it in speaking of himself in the third person, suggests that he regarded himself not just as a member of the human race like any other, but as the chosen one whom God "will make Lord of the world."89 He may have taken his cue, drawn his analogy, from the words of the Psalmist, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:4-6).
The import of the term Son of Man, and the significance of Jesus using it of himself, may have interesting theological implications—and it is perhaps not surprising that it has provided generations of scholars with an inexhaustible subject of thought and research. For the purposes of our inquiry it is sufficient to state that the expression is simple and straightforward Hebrew (or Aramaic) of biblical provenance, and that the use of it, even in relation to oneself, was neither prohibited nor offensive—as, indeed, it is not in the spoken Hebrew of today.
The association of the Messiah with "clouds of heaven" or with a seat at the right hand of God was nothing new either, and no one using such a metaphor was ever suspected or accused of blasphemy. Moses went into the clouds (Exod. 24:18); even the enemy shall come up as clouds (Jer. 4:13); and Daniel's "Son of man" came on the clouds of heaven (7:13). And the "Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps. 110:1). A minor altercation is reported in the Talmud between two illustrious scholars which throws some light on the manner in which "blasphemies" of this sort would be dealt with. Daniel had a vision of two thrones, on one of which sat "the Ancient of days," whose garment was white as snow, and his throne was like the fiery flame (7:9). Said one scholar: This was the throne of God, and the other, next to it, was the throne of David. He was rebuked by the second: How can you so profane God's holiness?90—suggesting that a mere mortal such as David would not be suffered or imaginable on a throne next to God's. The rebuke may or may not have been called for, but it did not diminish in any way the great prestige of the "profaner," nor would anybody have for a moment envisaged the possibility that any such "profaning" could be a criminal offense.
Even, therefore, on the assumption that Jesus uttered in front of the Sanhedrin the messianic declaration of the Son of Man, meaning himself, sitting at the right hand of God and coming in clouds of heaven (he had said much the same on earlier occasions: Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27) ,91 there was nothing either in the words themselves or in messianic claims or arrogations in general that would constitute an offense under Jewish law. Not only was there nothing criminal in his words, but there was nothing in his pretensions or pretentiousness that could, in reason, shock or scandalize his hearers.92
NO BUT CLAIMING TO BE "GOD" WOULD CAUSE AN HUGE OFFENCE TO JEWISH LEADERS, IT WOULD BE BLASPHEMY…. AND SO THE DEATH PENALTY COULD BE CALLED FOR - Keith Hunt
We are told, however, that, upon hearing the words, the high priest "rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?" (Mark 14:63-64; Matt. 26:65). (The version in Luke 22:71 is: "And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth"; there is no mention of rending garments.) It is, indeed, a rule of Jewish law that, on hearing the divine Name desecrated, the court and the witnesses must rend their garments,93 and most scholars, not surprisingly, regard this gesture on the part of the high priest as the proper and prescribed reaction to blasphemy uttered in his presence. They do not pause to ask why it was only the high priest who rent his garments, and not also all the other members of the Sanhedrin present, for the rule of law applied equally to all and each of them.94 We may perhaps see in the lone act of the high priest a first indication of the fact, yet to be demonstrated, that it was not this rule of law which had here found its application.
THE WORDS MARK AND MATTHEW ARE VERY CLEAR - IT WAS TO THEM, OR THE HIGH PRIEST - BLASPHEMY; BUT COHN PROBABLY THROWS OUT THOSE VERSES IN MARK AND MATTHEW, AS ADDED LATER, IN CHRISTIAN CENTURIES - Keith Hunt
We have seen that, under Jewish law, the capital offense of blasphemy is not, and at no time was, committed unless the holy and ineffable Name of God, composed of the letters YHWH (Yahweh), had been expressly pronounced by the blasphemer.95 The rending of garments—like capital punishment—follows the enunciation and desecration of this one and only divine Name alone; it does not follow any other reviling of God in which the Name was not spoken (Lev. 24:15-16), however bad the reviling be. The theory that the rending of garments, and capital punishment, had been justified by Jesus' use of the divine Name of "Power" (at whose right hand the Son of Man will sit) has been disproved by prominent commentators of the New Testament.96 In fact, the designation "Power" has been used of God only in post-biblical times: it was a Pharisaic device—apparently adopted by Jesus as a matter of course and of piety—to provide a non-sacred name by which God could be referred to in general conversation.97 Some Christian theologians have held that Jesus' blasphemy consisted in his reply to the high priest, "I am" (Mark 14:62), reasoning that the words "I am" (Ani Hu) are a divine name as holy and sacrosanct as Yahweh.98 It is true that God is said to have used this description speaking of Himself: "I am, and there is no god with me" (Deut. 32:39), and a prophet has also put it into God's mouth (Isa. 48:12). But that does not mean that any sacrosanctity attaches to the words as thus cited, nor is there any reason why they should, in this respect, be distinguished from the many other words that God is said to have used in speaking of Himself. Anyone conversant with the rudiments of Hebrew knows that the words Ani Hu, whether jointly or severally, are articulated hundreds of times in everyday speech—in fact, one cannot do without them; and to make their enunciation or profanation a capital offense is tantamount to rendering each single citizen, each day of the year, liable to the death penalty. That absurdities like this should have been propounded by scholars of repute goes to show how desperate were the efforts that they had to make to bring Jesus' words within the category of blasphemies under Jewish law. In the result, they all failed utterly.
AH BUT WE HAVE SEEN ONE GOSPEL ACCOUNT SAY THEY CALLED IT BLASPHEMY…. BUT AS WE HAVE SEE COHN WOULD THROW THIS OUT AS BEING SOMETHING ADDED TO THE GOSPELS BY SOME CHRISTIAN SOME TIME AFTER THE FIRST CENTURY PROBABLY, TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE AGAINST CHRIST, WHICH COHN HAS BEEN TRYING TO SAY THE EXACT OPPOSITE - THE JEWISH LEADERS FOR FOR JESUS AND TRYING TO SAVE HIM FROM THE ROMAN COURT AND DEATH - Keith Hunt
Nor did Jesus commit the minor offense of reviling God without desecrating the Name. On the contrary, his boast of the heavenly distinctions that God would shower upon him, of his choice by God as the Messiah (the "Christ"), bespeaks his recognition and worship of God: so far from reviling God, he was invoking God's "power" and wisdom, and the heavenly distinctions to which he laid claim would be exiguous unless God were indeed the ultima ratio in perfection and insight. And the fact that he relied on God for his choice and election was—as we have pointed out—the most natural and common thing to do:99 he might have been regarded as an apostate or an atheist if, for his teachings and aspirations, he had relied on his own strength and not on God's choice and call; but his persistent and unfailing dependence on God, his invocation of God, attest piety and devotion, however mistaken and misguided his teachings or aspirations may appear to this or the other listener.
OF COURSE COHN IS CORRECT THIS WAS JESUS' VERY NATURE, BUT THE GOSPELS MAKE IT VERY CLEAR, THAT THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE AGAINST HIM, AND FINALLY WANTED TO SEE HIM DEAD…. BUT COHN THROSE OUT THOSE VERSES, AND WHATEVER ELSE MAKES THE JEWISH LEADERS LOOK REALLY BAD AND EVIL AND VERY MUCH AGAINST CHRIST - Keith Hunt
Some corroboration for the hypothesis that Jesus could not have been convicted of any offense because of his teachings and aspirations, or, in particular, of his claim to be the chosen Messiah, is to be found in the report of the trial of Peter, which, as we know, took place before the Sanhedrin about a decade later (Acts 5:26-39). Like Jesus, Peter and his disciples were pious and observant Jews and had a following among the people. But while Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, Peter taught and asserted that the Messiah had already appeared in the person of Jesus, which made his doctrine theologically much more prejudicial and dangerous than any personal aspiration voiced by Jesus.
ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! JESUS SPOKE VERY PLAINLY ABOUT HIMSELF AS THE MESSIAH, AND BEING GOD, SENT BY GOD, THE VERY LITERAL SON OF GOD, BEING THE "I AM" - DOING EVERYTHING, MIRACLE AND TEACHING, FROM GOD; MAKING IT VERY PLAIN WHAT HE THOUGHT OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES AS A WHOLE, AND SO EVENTUALLY THE JEWISH LEADERS WANTED HIM DEAD - Keith Hunt
But Rabban Gamliel, "a doctor of the law" of high "reputation among all the people" (5:34), who was present at the session of the Sanhedrin, pleaded with his colleagues to "refrain from these men and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (5:38-39). Thus it came about that Peter was acquitted and left to continue his teachings. We shall revert to his trial in another context; for our present purpose we need only observe that Gamliel, a leader of the Pharisees and one of the most eminent scholars of his day, did not purport to fathom God's ways and choices; anybody professing to teach in God's name and to have been graced with divine inspiration must be free to do so, and in due course of time it will emerge whether it had truly been God who had inspired him.
ONE MAN DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ALL THE JEWISH LEADERS AND THEIR MIND-SET TOWARDS JESUS OR HIS DISCIPLES - Keith Hunt
Had the Sanhedrin seen, in the messianic teachings or aspirations of Jesus, any blasphemy or idolatry or false prophecy or any danger to the public peace or the established faith, it would certainly not have failed in its duty to administer justice and uphold the law—against Jesus and Peter alike. But in the case of Peter it was content to leave the matter in the hands of God, because it could not, and would not, exclude the possibility that Jesus had, indeed, been divinely inspired. It has been sagely remarked that this Sanhedrial decision, on Gamliel's plea, may have been among the first precedents for the relatively modern, but still widely unheeded, rule that no one is to be punished merely for expressing unpolitic or unorthodox opinions.100 The rule may not, at that time, have been required to protect individual views for which the proponents did not claim divine authority; if it was required, it was for people who dared to challenge orthodox tenets and established religion on the purported authority of divine call and afflatus, for it was only God's backing that would render their sermons worth listening to.
There is no valid reason to doubt that the same Gamliel who persuaded the Sanhedrin in Peter's case was present and prominent also during the meeting at night in the high priest's house, when Jesus stood before it. To regard the outcome of the "trial" of Jesus that night as proof of Gamliel's absence appears to be in the nature of a petitio principii; but there are scholars who, on the one hand, agree that he could not have found Jesus guilty and would very much like to know what he would have said or done had he been present,101 but, on the other, take Jesus' conviction by the Sanhedrin for granted, notwithstanding the undoubted presence and concurrence of judges of Gamliel's school of thought.
THE MAJORITY OFTENN RULES…. THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS MAKE IT CLEAR JESU WAS CONDEMNED BY THE SANHEDRIN THAT NIGHT - Keith Hunt
Had Gamliel, in the trial of Peter, vented only an individual opinion, a discussion would presumably have ensued, with some members relying on the stand of Gamliel or other Pharisaic scholars in the matter of Jesus a few years earlier, if indeed any Pharisaic scholar had then taken such a stand. Gamliel, however, certainly did not: he gave authoritative expression to what must have been a matter of general consensus that God's way and choices are unfathomable to men, and that, however much this way of choice may contradict that way or choice, both may be the "words of the one living God."102 Thus, whether or not Gamliel himself was there to speak in the case of Jesus also, his opinion and manner of thinking were most certainly well represented, so that there is, again, no cause to infer that he may not himself have been present that night, too. Nor is there any ground for the assumption that had Jesus actually stood trial that night, the outcome would have been different from that of Peter's. The fact is that he stood no trial and was not convicted. No blasphemy was charged, no blasphemy occurred: God's holiness was unimpaired, the holy Name was undefiled.
Why, then, did the high priest rend his garments?
NO NOT AT ALL! THE GAMLIEL STUFF, IS NOT IMPORTANT; HE IS NOT MENTIONED AS SUPPORTING JESUS; IF THE GOSPEL WRITERS HAD IT ALL WRONG, SURELY SOMEWHERE THE TRUE EVIDENCE WOULD BE PRESERVED, SAY BY PEOPLE LIKE JOSEPHUS THE JEWISH HISTORIAN. COHN SAYS "HE STOOD NO TRIAL AND WAS NOT CONVICTED" - THE GOSPELS SAY THE OPPOSITE, IF YOU DO NOT THROW ANY OF THE VERSES OR PASSAGES OUT, BY CLAIMING THEY WERE ADDED LATER BY CHRISTIANS DOWN THE LINE - Keith Hunt
The easiest way to unravel the riddle, as with most problems arising out of the Gospel reports, is to dismiss the whole incident of the rending of the high priest's garments as unhistorical. The authors of the Gospels of Luke and of John have already shelved it, apparently regarding the traditions of Mark and Matthew as unreliable.
SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO NOT READ ALL THE NEW TESTAMENT; YOU CAN COME UP WITH IDEAS LIKE ABOVE; LUKE AND HOHN BECAUSE THEY DID NOT RECORD IT, THEY ARE SAID TO HAVE DEBUNKED IT, AS NOT TRUE OR NO WAY OF KNOWING IF IT WAS TRUE. BY NOT READING WHERE PAUL SAID THE SCRIPTURES WERE GOD BREATHED - INSPIRED - YOU CAN PIT THIS MAN AGAINST THAT MAN, AND AS [SO TAUGHT] THIS GOSPEL WAS WRITTEN LATER THAN THAT GOSPEL [SO TAUGHT] THE LATER GOSPEL IS MORE CORRECT THAN THE EARLIER ONE….. SO OUT THIS GOES, OR OUT THAT GOES; CHOP UP THE BIBLE AND DO AWAY WITH THIS VERSE OR THAT PASSAGE. IT'S LIKE THE GUY WHO LEFT CHURCH, THE PASTOR SAYING GOODBYE TO HIM AT THE DOOR. "WHY" SAYS THE PASTOR, "YOU ONLY HAVE THE COVERS OF YOUR BIBLE." THE MAN REPLIED, "YA, PASTOR, WHENEVER YOU SAID THIS SECTION WAS DONE AWAY WITH, I TORE IT OUT."
But I think that the Marcan version lends itself to a reasonable and satisfactory explanation, and it will be seen that it falls neatly into place, and is not without significance, in the sequence of events that night. It is an ancient and well-known Jewish custom to rend one's garments as a sign of grief,103 not only on the death of a kinsman or other beloved person, or on suffering calamity or serious misfortune, but also on hearing any bad news, as, for instance, on the outbreak of war.104 If the high priest rent his garments that night, it was because of his grief not to be able to make Jesus see his point, his anguish that Jesus ostensibly refused to cooperate and was moving stubbornly toward his disastrous fate, and, not least, that Roman oppression would claim another Jewish victim, with all the consequences that might flow from Roman killing of a man of Jesus' standing and popularity.
OH THE LOVEY, SWEET, KIND, ALTRUISTIC, HIGH PRIEST AND SANHEDRIN, THEY JUST WANTED TO HELP JESUS SO MUCH; IT WAS BREAKING THEIR HEART THAT HE WAS NOT CO-OPERATING. THEY WERE SO UPSET, IN ANGUISH OF MIND, THAT HE WAS ACTING STUBBORN ENOUGH, TO GET TO THE ROMAN COURT OF PILATE, AND INCRIMINATE HIMSELF TO DEATH. I MEAN THE POOR HIGH PRIEST WAS SO BESIDE HIMSELF, HE WAS PRACTICALLY CRYING FOR GRIEF, AND JUST HAD TO SHOW IT BY REND HIS GARMENTS - MY TONGUE IS IN MY CHEECK - Keith Hunt
His declaration before the Sanhedrin that he was the Messiah (the "Christ"), while it was not a criminal offense, amounted to a rejection by Jesus of the offer made to him by the high priest and the Jewish leadership: cooperation between them would be possible only if they would accept his assertion and recognize his claim. This, of course, they could not and would not do, not only because they did not believe in him, and would have regarded their submission to his authority as a dereliction of duty and a transgression of law, but also because Sanhedrial recognition of the messianic pretensions of Jesus would surely have meant, in the eyes of the people as well as of Pilate, a confirmation of the very charges of which Jesus stood accused before the Roman authorities. So far from agreeing to abstain thenceforth from activity that might bring him into conflict with the powers-that-be, he reasserted his messianic mission and insisted on its fulfillment; he would not bow to the authority or accept the guidance of the Sanhedrin. It was no blasphemy which made the high priest rend his garments, but the failure of his efforts to bring Jesus to reason and save him from his doom—and a foreboding of the catastrophic aftermath.
OH YES THE SANHEDRIN WAS THERE THAT NIGHT TO RESCUE HIM FROM HIMSELF. THEY JUST HAD TO GET HIM TO HONOR THE SANHEDRIN, TO SEE THEIR WONDERFUL SELFLESS SPIRIT; THEY HAD ALL COME OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, ON PASSOVER OF THE 14TH, TO DO THEIR BEST TO GET JESUS TO CO-OPERATE WITH THEM, AND THEIR TRYING TO SAVE HIM FROM ROME AND A GOOD LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH. IT WAS NOT "BLASPHEMY" THAT MADE THE HIGH PRIEST REND HIS GARMENTS [THE GOSPELS SAY IT ACTUALLY WAS] - BUT IT WAS THE FAILURE OF THE HIGH PRIEST IN HIS EFFORTS TO REASON WITH, AND SAVE HIM FROM HIS DOOM, A FOREBODING OF THE CATASTROPHIC AFTERMATH…..THE SANHEDRIN ACCORDING TO COHN, WAS SO WONDERFUL, THEY LOVED JESUS AS DID THE POPULACE, AND JUST WANTED HIM TO LIVE AND NOT FACE THE ROMAN DEATH PENALTY. YOU TALK ABOUT CALLING BLACK, WHITE, AND WHITE BLACK; COHN READS THE GOSPELS WHILE STANDING ON HIS HEAD - UPSIDE DOWN - Keith Hunt
But it was only the high priest who rent his garments: there was no conviction for blasphemy, no desecration of the holy Name, and so no legal duty of rending, nor were the others present under any obligation to follow the high priest's example.105
JUST BECAUSE OTHERS DID NOT REND THEIR GARMENTS, DOES NOT MEAN, THEY WERE LOVING JESUS AND ALSO GRIEF STRICKEN AT WHAT HE COULD FACE BEFORE PILATE. THE WHOLE THING WAS SUCH A SHAM, THEY WERE PROBABLY JUST STRICKEN WITH SHOCK AND FROZEN, WITH WHAT JESUS WAS CLAIMING FOR HIMSELF - Keith
That the rending of his garments is almost conclusive evidence of the high priest's grief - if it was not just formal compliance with a ritualistic prescript—cannot be seriously contested;
IT CANNOT SERIOUSLY BE CONTESTED! JUST BECAUSE THIS SUPREME COURT OF ISRAEL GUY SAY IT, DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. THE MAN CAN'T EVEN READ THE PLAIN WORDS OF THE GOSPEL WRITERS; WHY A 9 YEAR OLD COULD AND COME UP WITH THE PLAIN TRUTH, BUT THIS "EDUCATED" COHN MAN, HE SO MIXED UP WITH THE TRUTH OF THE MENTAL ATTITUDE OF MOST OF THE SANHEDRIN, HE CAN'T SEE THE FOREST BECAUSE OF THE TREES - Keith Hunt
but if—as the protagonists of the Jewish Trial Theory maintain- it was his purpose, in interrogating Jesus, to extract a confession, then, according to the Gospel reports, he had accomplished that purpose easily. What cause had he, therefore, for any grief?106
COHN ADMITS THE GOSPEL WRITERS ACCOMPLISHED TO MAKE IT APPEAR THAT THEY GOT A CONFESSION IN INTERROGATING JESUS; SO INDEED WHY THE GRIEF FROM THE HIGH PRIEST? - Keith Hunt
The cause can be understood at once if we assume that the last thing that he desired was to extract a confession; on the contrary, he wanted Jesus to give up his messianic aspirations or at least keep silent about them: he got exactly the contrary of what he wished, and hence had reason to mourn.
NOTE THE USE OF "ASSUME" - COHN ASSUMES, THE REASON FOR THE HIGH PRIESTS GRIEF, IS THAT HE WANTED JESUS TO "GIVE UP HIS MESSIANIC ASPIRATIONS, OR LEAST KEEP SILENT ABOUT THEM" - HE GOT "EXACTLY THE CONTRARY OF WHAT HE WISHED," SO JUST HAD TO MOURN. THE HIGH PRIEST AND SANHEDRIN, THEY WERE THERE TO HELP JESUS LIVE NOT DIE. OH THEY WERE SO SAD, SO UPSET, THEIR ALTRUISTIC LOVE FOR JESUS, WAS GETTING THEM NOWHERE. YOU CAN SEE IT, "OH WHY, OH WHY, DON'T YOU LET US HELP YOU; WE LOVE YOU, WE KNOW THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH LOVE YOU, WE ARE HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO DESIRE YOU TO PUT AWAY MESSINAIC ASPIRATIONS THAT COULD LEAD YOU TO THE ROMAN DEATH SENTENCE. WE ARE FOR YOU, WE ARE ON YOUR SIDE"…….. MOURN, MOURN, TEARS DROPPING…… OUT OF LOVING DESPERATION FROM THE HIGH PRIEST, BEING SO SORRY HE COULD NOT GET JESUS TO SEE COMMON SENSE, HE JUST WITH GREAT ANGUISH, RENT HIS GARMENTS………MY TONGUE IS IN MY CHEEK AGAIN - Keith Hunt
If we take into consideration the trouble to which he had gone, ordering temple police to seek the custody of Jesus, calling the full membership of the Great Sanhedrin into his own palace, and devoting the whole festive night to frantic efforts in behalf of Jesus, we cannot be surprised at his total disappointment and despair when he saw that everything had been in vain.
COHN GOES BACK TO HIS WHOLE PICTURE; THE SANHEDRIN HAD REALLY PUT THEMSELVES OUT, GETTING UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT; BARGAINING WITH THE ROMANS TO HAVE TEMPLE POLICE THERE AMONG ROMAN MILITARY TO ARREST JESUS, SO THEY COULD THEN BE GIVEN THE CHANCE BY THE ROMANS FOR THE SANHEDRIN TO MEET WITH JESUS, AND TRY AND TALK SOME SENSE INTO HIM; TO GET HIM TO HONOR THE WISHES OF THE SANHEDRIN, TO NOT INCRIMINATE HIMSELF BEFORE THE ROMAN COURT. THEY WERE FRANTIC ABOUT THIS, THEY WERE EVEN WILLING TO DO IT ON A FESTIVAL NIGHT. THEY LOVED JESUS, KNEW THE PEOPLE LOVED HIM, AND THEY SO WANTED TO SAVE HIM FROM DEATH, THAT THE ROMANS MIGHT HAND OUT TO HIM. THE HIGH PRIEST WAS IN TOTAL DESPAIR, GRIEF WAS OVERWHELMING, HE JUST HAD TO REND HIS GARMENTS, BECAUSE JESUS WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE SANHEDRIN'S KINDNESS AND LOVE FOR HIM - Keith Hunt
While others present did not rend their garments, there is, in the Gospel reports, some backing for the surmise that they may have given vent to their indignation and disillusionment in different, less civilized, ways.
WE SHALL SEE COHN THINK WHAT HE TALKS ABOUT NEXT IS "LESS CIVILIZED WAYS" BUT STILL JUST SHOWING THEIR FRUSTRATION, SORROW, SADNESS, IMPATIENCE, WITH JESUS NOT ACCEPTING THEIR LOVING KINDNESS, BY HONORING AND FOLLOWING THE SANHEDRIN, IN THEIR EFFORT TO GET JESUS TO ABANDON HIS BRASHFULNESS THAT WOULD SURELY GET HIM INTO HOT WATER WITH PILATE AND THE ROMAN COURT - Keith Hunt
According to one version, they "did spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (Matt. 26:67); according to another, "some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him; and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands" (Mark 14:65). A third has it that it was "the men that held Jesus," that is, presumably, the temple police, who "mocked him and smote him, and when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face" (Luke 22:63-64). The most probable story of all, however, if we must assume that Jesus was, in fact, bodily assaulted, is that of the Fourth Gospel, that one of the Jewish officers "struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?" And Jesus' reply, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John 18:22-23), lends both the question, with the accompanying violence, and the response a very authentic flavor.
NOTICE COHN "THE MOST PROBABLE STORY OF ALL, HOWEVER, IF WE MUST ASSUME THAT JESUS WAS, IN FACT, BODILY ASSAULTED, IS THAT OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL…." COHN PUTS DOUBT IN HIS AND YOUR MIND, TO ACCEPT THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS ACCOUNT; NOT BELIEVING THE GOSPELS ARE DIVINELY INSPIRED, HE CAN QUESTION JUST ABOUT ANYTHING IN THEM, AS TO BEING TRUE, AND NOT SIMPLY MADE UP FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT AND TO SLANT A CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AGAINST THE JEWS - Keith Hunt
But let us say that, following Jesus' "confession" and the final conclusions to which the members of the Sanhedrin were driven by it, some of them actually exploded in fisticuffs, or servants or other bystanders reacted violently. In a more sophisticated and less turbulent society, people might have turned away in silence and disgust or, at most, used strong words. But in those tumultuous days in an enemy-occupied Jerusalem, people may not always have been as self-controlled and disciplined as that. And after a nerve-racking night, which each and all of them would rather have spent in celebrating, or in preparing for, the feast at home and in the temple, or in slumber, than in trying to persuade Jesus to accept their authority and be saved from his fate,
AGAIN WE CLEARLY SEE WHAT COHN THINKS THE SANHEDRIN WERE TRYING TO DO - SAVE JESUS; HAVE HIM ACCEPT THEIR AUTHORITY AND BE SAVED FROM HIS FATE WITH THE ROMAN COURT - Keith Hunt
the anger and frustration which took hold of them could not easily, in every individual case, be confined within civilized limits. Had a sentence of death been pronounced against Jesus by the Sanhedrin that night, as reported in Mark 14:64,
MARK WAS INSPIRED TO GIVE US THE TRUTH IN PLAIN EASY TO UNDERSTAND WORDS, BUT COHN WOULD DISMISS THIS AS ADDED LATER BY ANTAGONISTIC CHRISTIANS WITH JEWS, AT THE END OF THE FIRST CENTURY OR LATER - Keith Hunt
any impatience with his obduracy that might have incensed any member of the court would have found its quick release in the carrying out of the sentence: it is virtually inconceivable, and, of course, highly improper, for a judge to raise his hand against a prisoner in the dock. The biblical prescript "Love thy neighbour as thyself" (Lev. 19:18) was interpreted as an exhortation to judges to make as light and fair as humanly possible the last hours of a prisoner sentenced to death;107 and not only judges were forbidden even to lift a finger to strike another man.108 But, if it be true that the Sanhedrin did not, that night, pass any death sentence, (IT IS NOT TRUE, FOR THEY DID INDEED PASS A DEATH SENTENCE ON JESUS AS MARK RECORDS - Keith Hunt) the ineffectuality, after a long and tiring vigil, of the desperate efforts to bring Jesus to reason, and agonizing thoughts of impending and now probably unavoidable tragedy, might well have robbed the more passionate judges and bystanders of their last traces of self-restraint.
AGAIN WE SEE COHN TRYING TO TELL US WHAT HE CLAIMS IS THE REAL STORY AND TRUTH ABOUT THAT NIGHT, AND THE BENEVOLENT EFFORTS OF THE SANHEDRIN TO RESCUE JESUS FROM HIMSELF, AND FROM THE " IMPENDING AND NOW PROBABLY UNAVOIDABLE TRAGEDY" - WITH THE ROMAN COURT - Keith Hunt
It is only in Mark (14:64) that we find a formal condemnation to death; according to Matthew, they—the judges—answered the high priest "and said, He is guilty of death" (26:66); according to Luke (22:71), they did not even say that. Thus each Gospel has a version of its own: John has no death sentence, because according to him there was no trial before the Sanhedrin; Luke has none either, although according to him there was some sort of trial before the Sanhedrin, albeit only in the early morning hours; according to Matthew, they all exclaimed, "He is guilty of death," but no "condemnation," as such, is recorded; only in Mark is one recorded.109
COHN NOW TRIES TO PIT ONE GOSPEL ACCOUNT AGAINST ANOTHER, TRYING TO GET YOU TO SEE THERE ARE CONTRADICTION, AND ONE GOSPEL [JOHN] NOT HAS NO DEATH SENTENCE AND NOT EVEN A TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN; LUKE HAS NONE EITHER, BUT SOME SORT OF TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN. HE ADMITS IN MATTHEW, "THEY ALL EXCLAIMED 'HE IS GUILTY OF DEATH' BUT NO 'CONDEMNATION' AS SUCH IS RECORDED; ONLY IN MARK IS ONE RECORDED."
CLEVER TRY AT TRYING TO MAKE OUT, THE GOSPEL AUTHORS WERE ONLY WRITING WITH HUMAN NATURE, HENCE CONFUSED AMONG THEMSELVES, SOMEWHAT CONTRADICTORY, AND JOHN LEAVING IT ALL OUT. COHN WOULD TRY AND SAY JOHN WROTE LAST, AT THE END OF THE FIRST CENTURY, HENCE HE IS MORE CORRECT, DISMISSING THE ACCOUNTS OF MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE. COHN TRIES TO MAKE A BIG ISSUE OF THEY ALL EXCLAIMED "HE IS GUILTY OF DEATH" WITH "NO CONDEMNATION." IS NOT "HE IS GUILTY OF DEATH" A PRETTY FORCEFUL CONDEMNATION? I MEAN, ONCE DEAD DOES IT MATTER ABOUT ARGUING OVER WORDS OR THE SEMANTICS OF WORDS? I THINK MOST WOULD NOT BE THINKING ABOUT AN "OFFICIAL" CONDEMNATION, CERTAIN NOT THE ONE ON TRIAL, IF A VERDICT OF "HE IS GUILTY OF DEATH" IS BROUGHT AGAINST THEM. BUT COHN WILL GRASP AT ANYTHING HE CAN, TO TWIST THE CLEAR STATEMENTS OF THE GOSPELS, FOR HIS DEDUCTION THAT THE SANHEDRIN WAS TRYING TO LOVINGLY SAVE JESUS FROM THE ROMAN DEATH PENTALTY.
THE WRITERS OF THE GOSPELS WERE INSPIRED TO WRITE FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES OF ALL THE PROCEEDINGS THAT NIGHT. ONE RECORDED THIS, ANOTHER RECORDED THAT, SOME PUT IT IN CERTAIN WORDS, OTHERS PUT IT IN ANOTHER WORDS; SOME EVEN LEFT PART OR ALL OF IT OUT. SUCH IS THE NATURAL WAY REPORTERS, OR BIOGRAPHERS WILL WRITE. NOT ALL TV STATIONS REPORTING THE NEWS ON CERTAIN EVENTS OVER A PERIOD OF HOURS, WILL SAY OR WRITE EXACTLY THE SAME THING. AND SOME REPORTING ON THE LIFE OF AN INDIVIDUAL WILL LEAVE OUT, WHAT OTHERS HAVE REPORTED ON. JOHN'S GOSPEL IS VERY DIFFERENT IN MANY WAYS THAN MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE. JOHN WROTE A DIFFERENT BIOGRAPHY ABOUT THE LIFE OF CHRIST, THAN DID THE SO-CALLED SYNOPTIC GOSPELS - Keith Hunt
Had there actually been a formal condemnation, it would necessarily have to be assumed that some sort of trial did precede it, and also to be expected that the formal sentence would duly be carried out, whether by order of the Sanhedrin itself or, on the view that it lacked the necessary power, of the Roman authorities. The ultimate event, as all the Gospels report it, seems to attest cogently enough what had—and had not—taken place before: in the issue, the Sanhedrin did not purport to carry out any death sentence of its own, nor did the Roman authorities—or anybody else—carry out any death sentence of the Sanhedrin; nobody informed Pontius Pilate that a trial had been held before the Sanhedrin, and that Jesus had already been sentenced to death! Yet one would have thought that this was the first thing to tell the Roman governor if "the Jews" were indeed so eager to see Jesus condemned: the Great Sanhedrin of Israel had already assembled and had unanimously found Jesus guilty of a capital offense! Not even the author of the Gospel of John, according to whom the Jews said to Pilate, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (18:31), puts a plea into their mouths that he order a death sentence, which had already been passed, to be carried out by the Romans; on the contrary, he lets the Jews refuse to "judge him" (ibid.). Even if, then, there was no formal condemnation by the Sanhedrin, that does not necessarily mean that members of the Sanhedrin may not have exclaimed some such words as are reported in Matthew, that Jesus was now doomed.
COHN DOES SOME PRETTY FANCY FOOTWORK HERE [AS IN MANY OTHER PLACES]. MAYBE PILATE KNEW ABOUT THE SANHEDRIN'S NIGHT VIGIL WITH CHRIST, MAYBE NOT [PROBABLY WAS SLEEPING]. THE FACTS ARE, THE SANHEDRIN DID CONDEMN JESUS TO DEATH. BUT AS I'VE SAID BEFORE, THEY DID FEAR THE PEOPLE, THEY DID KNOW THE PEOPLE LOVED JESUS. THERE WAS NO WAY THEY WERE GOING TO HAVE IT APPEAR THEY HATED CHRIST, HAD SENTENCED HIM TO DEATH, AND WOULD THEMSELVES KILL HIM. THE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE GONE WILD, AND THAT ON A FEAST DAY…..NO WAY, THEY WERE NOT STUPID LEADERS; THEY WERE HATEFUL, ANGRY, HAD MALICE, VEHEMENTLY WANTED JESUS DEAD; BUT THEY WERE NOT STUPID LEADERS. THEY HAD TO ARRANGE IT SO IT LOOKED LIKE THE ROMANS WERE PUTTING JESUS TO DEATH….THEY WERE "CRAFTY" AS MARK STATED IT [MARK 14:1-2] - Keith Hunt
We started from the premise that the high priest, and hence the members of the Sanhedrin, knew that Jesus was to be tried early the next morning before the Roman governor, and that they regarded it as absolutely indispensable to do everything possible to prevent the unfavorable outcome of that trial.
ONCE MORE, COHN SPILLS OUT HIS, WHAT HE WOULD CALL, TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE HAPPENINGS THAT NIGHT, AND THE TRUE MOTIVE OF THE SANHEDRIN - Keith Hunt
It follows that they anticipated that the probable outcome would be fatal, and did not believe that Jesus stood a chance of acquittal or of a punishment less than death.
THEY KNEW THE ROMAN COURT WOULD FIND JESUS GUILTY, AND WANTED SO BADLY TO SAVE HIM FROM DEATH, ACCORDING TO COHN - Keith Hunt
We have pointed out that saving another's life warranted violation of the feast, but nothing short of saving the life of a man in direst jeopardy would warrant it. The men of the Sanhedrin were acquainted with their governor, and had no illusions about him: if Jesus were tried and did not formally and solemnly recant his pretensions, he had no hope of escaping death. When their efforts to get him to agree to give up those claims and promise to desist from messianic activity had availed nothing, they all knew that he would be found guilty and sentenced to die—by virtue not of any sentence or judgment of theirs, but of what that governor would pronounce against him. The outcry, "He must die," was the natural and spontaneous reflex to the words which Jesus had spoken, sealing, as they did, his fate in the coming trial, from whose upshot there seemed no longer any possibility of rescuing him.
ONCE AGAIN COHN IS ON THE BAND-WAGON OF THE WONDERFUL SANHEDRIN, TRYING TO SAVE JESUS FROM DEATH, AND SO GRIEVED THAT JESUS WAS REFUSING THEIR HEART-WARM SERVICE TOWARDS HIM - Keith Hunt
We cannot know whether the evangelists—or some of them—were aware of what had, in truth, happened that night in the high priest's house and had framed their reports so as to serve their particular partisan ends, or reported each according to his traditions, in the honest belief that they were historically true.
COHN IS SO NICE, HE WANTS TO GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT TO THE DISCIPLES, AS THEY WROTE WHAT THEY HONESTLY THOUGHT WAS TRUTH, BUT WAS ANYTHING BUT THE TRUTH. THEIR REPORTS WERE TO SERVE A "PARTICULAR PARTISAN ENDS" - REPORTED ACCORDING TO TRADITIONS, AS COHN WOULD SAY, TRADITIONS OF CHRISTIANS OVER TIME, WHO HAD PARTICULAR PARTISAN ENDS, A THEOLOGICAL SLANT; THEIR TAKE ON THE WHOLE MATTER FORMED BY THE EVER INCREASING ANTAGONISM THAT DEVELOPED IN THE LATTER HALF OF THE FIRST CENTURY BETWEEN JEWS AND CHRISTIANS [WHICH INDEED DID HAPPEN] - Keith Hunt
It has been said that we must distinguish between "early tradition and later expansion," and that "only after having eliminated from the four accounts such elements as are due to secondary traditions or to editorial accretion, may we use the residue of primary tradition for purposes of making historical deductions."110
A CLEVER WAY OF SAYING THE GOSPELS WERE MAN MADE, NOT DIVINELY INSPIRED; MODERN CRITICISM BEING APPLIED, BASED ON "NON-INSPIRATION" - YOU DEDUCE WITH HUMAN REASONING, WHAT PARTS OF THE GOSPELS ARE TRUE AND WHAT PARTS ARE NOT TRUE - Keith Hunt
But the task of differentiation is not easy, and what to one scholar may appear to be a primary tradition, a second may regard as secondary, and it would be difficult to disprove either opinion. It has also been said that in reporting the night proceedings in the high priest's house, the evangelists did not purport to convey any traditions which they possessed but described what they knew of trial or interrogation procedures of their own time and place. Thus the high priest is recorded as interrogating Jesus exactly as Roman judges or governors would, in the days of the evangelists, have interrogated suspect Christians.111 It is, indeed, probable that, to render Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus plausible, the evangelists would attribute to the Sanhedrin some sort of judicial procedure, and one with which they and their contemporary readers were familiar would be the natural choice.
AGAIN THE MAN MADE LAWS OR TRADITIONS OF THE TIMES OF THE APOSTLES, GAVE THE INFLUENCE TO THE GOSPEL WRITERS, NOT THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. BUT ALL ON MERE HUMAN DESIGN, AS WHATEVER THINGS THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLES WOULD BE LIVING IN. A MILD WAY OF SAYING THE APOSTLES WROTE WITH SLANTED BIAS, INFLUENCED BY SOCIETY - Keith Hunt
The Jewish law of procedure prevailing in Jerusalem in the epoch of Jesus was almost certainly unknown to them, apart from the fact that, even if it were known, it would not have suited their purpose. We find even such a learned and well-versed Jewish writer as Philo of Alexandria ignorant of Jewish laws: claiming to describe the Jewish canon, he gives in actual fact a description of Greek and Egyptian statutes in force in his own time and place.112 And what is understandable in a Jewish writer is certainly understandable, and venial, in Christian authors and preachers.
COHN SAYS, AS OFTEN DONE BY JEWISH WRITERS, SO ALSO THEN BY CHRISTIAN WRITERS; BOTH CAN BE FOUNDED ON WRONG OR UNEDUCATED KNOWLEDGE OF JEWISH LAWS, AND SO MISTAKES HAPPEN - Keith Hunt
But the whole theory falls to the ground for the simple reason that the Gospel reports, whether of the interrogation by the high priest or of the trial by the Sanhedrin, in no way correspond to procedures known to be in use when and where the evangelists lived:
COHN SEES REPORTED THINGS THAT WOULD NOT NORMALLY HAPPEN, OR BE USED, THINGS IN THE GOSPELS THAT "IN NO WAY CORRESPOND TO PROCEDURES KNOWN TO BE IN USE WHEN AND WHERE THE EVANGELISTS LIVED." I GUESS NOT! THIS WAS NOT IN ANY WAY THE NORMAL WAY THINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE, BY THE SANHEDRIN, THE ARREST AT NIGHT, THE CONDEMNATION TO DEATH BY THEM, AND THE CRAFTY WAY TO BRING JESUS BEFORE PILATE AND THE ROMAN COURT FOR TO AQUIRE THE DEATH SENTENCE UPON HIM - Keith Hunt
in a letter from Pliny,113 rendering account to the emperor of the manner in which he tried suspect Christians, he speaks of their interrogation, himself questioning and re-questioning them until they confessed; but he does not speak of the examination of any witnesses. The normal procedure would be to start, not with the examination of witnesses, but with the interrogation of the accused (quaestio), and where the accused confessed, witnesses would no longer be required.114 But, as will be remembered, the Gospel reports speak of the examination of witnesses first: the accused was not interrogated unless and until that had proved abortive. Just as interrogation of the accused would have been contrary to Jewish law, so would the prior examination of witnesses have been contrary to Roman; and just as there is not in the Gospel reports a true and accurate account of Jewish law, so is there none of Roman.115
COHN WOULD TRY AND MAKE A BIG MASSIVE ISSUE BY THIS, SO MASSIVE TO HIM, THAT HE WOULD COUNT THE GOSPEL STORIES AS UNRELIABLE, MADE UP, THEOLOGICALLY SLANTED, FULL OF BIAS, UN-KNOWLEDGABLE ABOUT JEWISH LAWS; HENCE NOT AT ALL TRUE, AND THE OPPOSITE TO WHAT REALLY TOOK PLACE - Keith Hunt
Scholars who see, in the Gospel accounts of the trial, descriptions of Roman procedures have regarded the beatings and smiting of Jesus that those accounts record as having followed it as an echo of the flagellations which, under Roman law, were implicit in every sentence of death and preceded its carrying out.116 They hold that no such beatings or smitings actually took place, but as the evangelists knew that every prisoner sentenced to death would automatically be liable to flagellatio, they reported the beatings and smitings as if they had to follow the sentence as a matter of course.
THE BEATING AND SMITINGS DID NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW ANY LAW OF ANYONE. THAT NIGHT AND ALL THAT TOOK PLACE WAS NOT "NORMAL" AS COURTS OF LAW IN JEWISH AND ROMAN COURTS, WOULD HAVE "NORMALLY" TAKING PLACE. ALL THE HAPPENINGS WERE VERY UN-NORMAL DURING THOSE OURS OF NIGHT AND INTO DAY-BREAK. THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE INCENSED, ANGRY, INFLAMED WITH HATE, ANIMOSITY, AGAINST JESUS. THEY HAD FOR SOME TIME WANTED HIM DEAD, THEY USED "CRAFT" TO GET WHERE THEY COULD SEE HIM DEAD. EVERY CUNNING WAY WAS DONE, TO THE END THAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE JESUS WAS GUILTY OF SEDITION AGAINST ROME, WITH PLANS TO TAKE THE ROMAN THRONE AND SET HIMSELF UP AS KING OVER THE ROMAN EMPIRE - Keith Hunt
This theory is equally untenable: according to Luke, the beatings preceded the trial (22:63-64), which in itself would take them out of the category of penitentiary measures; and the other Gospels report some flagellations afterward at the hands of Roman soldiers (Matt. 27:30; Mark 15:19; John 19:1), which would amply account for what was required under Roman law but under Jewish was illegitimate and improper.
NORMALLY SPEAKING…. IMPROPER UNDER JEWISH LAW, BUT THAT NIGHT WAS ANYTHING BUT "NORMAL" UNDER JEWISH LAW. IT WAS DONE AT NIGHT BY THE SANHEDRIN, SO THE JEWISH POPULATION WOULD HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE - THE BEATINGS BY THE JEWS WAS REAL, IT ALL TOOK PLACE, AND THE SO DOING WAS NOT OUT OF FRUSTRATION THAT JESUS WOULD NHOT BOW AND HONOR THE SANHEDRIN THAT WAS TRYING TO HELP HIM AVERT THE ROMAN DEATH SENTENCE.
ACCORDING TO COHN THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, AND HOW SOME OF THE GOSPEL WRITER SHOULD HAVE RECORDED IT: "We are trying to help you; can't you see that?" - SLAP, BANG! "We want to help you." - SLAP, BANG ON THE HEAD. "We need you to honour us, bow to us, so we can help you." - SLAP, BANG! "It is very frustrating for us." SLAP, BANG! "You need to see we are helping you; we don't want you to die." SLAP, BANG! "Please, please wake up." SLAP, BANG!
THE KIND, LOVING SANHEDRIN WAS SO UPSET, SO GRIEVED, SO SORROWFUL THAT JESUS WAS NOT RESPONDING TO THEIR HEART-FELT KINDNESS TO HELP HIM, THEY, OUT OF FRUSTRATION, JUST HAD TO LOOSE THEIR COOL [SOME OF THEM] AND SLAP AND HIT HIM, TO GET HIM TO SEE SENCE -Keith Hunt
"Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early" (John 18:28), and in the hall of judgment in the Roman governor's court Pilate was already prepared and waiting for the prisoner to be brought before him for trial. Both John and Luke (23:1) report that Jesus was "led" there, being neither chained nor shackled; according to Mark (15:1) and Matthew (27:2), the Jews bound him first, and so led him to Pilate's court. The second version appears the more probable one: though, as we have seen, Jesus had in all likelihood been led unbound into the high priest's house, the logic would be that he was led bound into the Roman court. He had been delivered into Jewish custody for the night upon the plea of the temple police, on the undertaking that he would be duly handed over the next morning to the Roman court for trial: at least in front of the Roman troops and guards, the Jewish constables would have to act as if Jesus had indeed been their prisoner, in the full sense of the word, through that night, and that they were now surrendering him, as such, for trial. His delivery not as a prisoner, but as a free man, might have aroused suspicion that in asking that Jesus be given into their custody theirs had been a purpose other than the one vouched by them, and incompatible with what the Romans planned. The Roman tribune may have agreed to let Jesus stay overnight in Jewish custody on his own responsibility; but had he—or the governor—seen that Jesus had been freed and accorded special treatment, he might have called the temple police to account for the indulgence. At all events, it can be assumed that, after hearing Jesus' replies to the high priest, the Sanhedrin saw no way out and ordered him to be arrested and brought for trial to the Roman court.
AH INDEED, THE SANHEDRIN WANTED IT; THEY HAD CRAFTILY PLANNED IT; IT WAS BEFORE PILATE AND ROME THAT THEY WANTED JESUS TO BE CONDEMNED TO DEATH; THEY WANTED IT TO LOOK LIKE THIS MAN WAS FULL OF SEDITION, WITH PLANS TO OVERTHROW THE THRONE OF ROME AND MAKE HIMSELF KING OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE - Keith Hunt
The Synoptic Gospels are unanimous that "when the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death" (Matt. 27:1), or that "straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council" (Mark 15:1). According to Luke, this consultation "as soon as it was day" (22:66) took the place of the trial itself, being either identical with it or in lieu of it; but the version in Matthew and Mark raises the question whether it was the conclusion of the trial or a separate and additional proceeding.
THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS SHOW CLEARLY IT WAS THE JEWISH LEADERS, THAT TOOK COUNCIL TO PUT JESUS TO DEATH….THE WORDS AS PLAIN TO READ. WHETHER THIS WAS SOME SEPARATE "TRIAL" DOES NOT MATTER; WHAT MATTERS IS THE VERDICT FROM THE "CHIEF PRIESTS HELD A CONSULTATION WITH THE ELDERS AND SCRIBES AND THE WHOLE COUNCIL."
NOTHING COULD BE CLEARER…..THE JEWISH LEADERS WANTED JESUS DEAD, JUST AS THEY HAD WANTED FOR SOME TIME - Keith Hunt
There is a theory ventilated that the Sanhedrin would always—and had to—pronounce sentence at the dawn of day,117 another of those unfounded and rather absurd theories invented for the purpose of proving the historicity of some otherwise inexplicable Gospel report:
DOES NOT MATTER WHO INVENTED THIS IDEA, ABOUT THE SANHEDRIN AND SENTENCING - WRONG BE IT. THE FACT IS THE GOSPEL WRITERS WERE INSPIRED TO WRITE IT WAS SO; THE SANHEDRIN PRONOUNCED THE DEATH SENTENCE ON JESUS - Keith Hunt
as a matter of law, the Sanhedrin started its sessions in the morning hours and determined them in the afternoon,118 and even where the trial had been concluded earlier, sentence was never pronounced until shortly before sunset.119
THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE FACT IN "NORMAL" COURT PROCEEDINGS BY THE SANHEDRIN; THIS WAS ANYTHING BUT "NORMAL" - Keith Hunt
Seeing that, for Matthew and Mark, a trial had taken place during the night and had resulted in a condemnation or a finding of guilt, the evangelists may have thought an explanation to be due for the subsequent delivery of Jesus into the hands of Pilate instead of his execution by the Jews;120 they could hardly suppress the trial before Pilate and the resultant crucifixion, because those facts were already too well known. The early morning "consultation" provided them with a solution: though the Jews had tried Jesus and found him guilty, they now consulted together whether it would not be wiser, and more practicable, not to have Jesus put to death but to deliver him into the hands of Pilate.
AND THAT IS EXACTLY THE CRAFT OF THE JEWISH LEADERS; THEY WANTED JESUS TRIED AND CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY THE ROMAN COURT; THEY WANTED THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO SEE THIS MAN WAS FULL OF SEDITION AGAINST ROME, HAD IDEAS OF KINGSHIP ON THE THRONE OF ROME. THEY WANTED THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO SEE THAT THEY, THEIR LEADERS, WERE THE GOOD GUYS, LOYAL TO ROME, BRINGING THIS JESUS MAN BEFORE THE ROMAN COURTS BECAUSE HE WAS A TRAITOR TO ROME - Keith Hunt
It is significant that no explanation is offered, in either Matthew or Mark, why this would be wiser, or more practicable: anybody who wanted to see Jesus tried and crucified by the Romans could have denounced him to them, and there was no need, with that purpose in mind, for any Sanhedrial trial or condemnation, and a night trial at that;121
IT HAD TO BE DONE PRIVATELY, AT NIGHT; THE PEOPLE AT LARGE NEVER GOT ANY IDEA IN JESUS' TEACHING AND PREACHING, THAT HE WAS SEDITIOUS TOWARDS ROME, THAT HE WAS WANTING TO BE KING OVER THE ROMAN EMPIRE. NO NEWS HAD EVER COME TO PILATE OR ANY ROMAN OFFICIAL, THAT JESUS WAS PLANING TO OBTAIN THE ROMAN THRONE. THE ROMANS WERE PAYING PRACTICALLY NO ATTENTION TO JESUS. THEY NEVER LOOKED UPON HIM AS A THREAT. THEY WOULD HAVE HAD THEIR SPIES OUT THERE, THEIR INFORMERS. NOTHING CAME BACK TO THEM THAT JESUS WAS A SWORD WIELDING, ARMS CREATING WAR-PLANING SELF-APPOINTED KING, JUST WAITING FOR THE RIGHT TIME TO MAKE WAR ON ROME AND OBTAIN THE ROMAN THRONE. IF THE PEOPLE HAD SEEN THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES AND THE WHOLE SANHEDRIN, TRYING TO ARREST JESUS AND HAND HIM OVER TO THE ROMAN AUTHORITIES AS A BOLD SEDITIOUS MAN, IN THE DAYLIGHT; THE JEWISH PEOPLE WOULD HAVE GONE RIOTOUSLY MAD. MARK GIVES US THIS BASIC TRUTH: "After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of Unleavened bread: and 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). THE KEY IS "BY CRAFT" - THE JEWISH LEADERS HAD TO DO IT ALL WITH CRAFTINESS, SLIGHT OF HAND, KEEPING THEMSELVES LOOKING GOOD IN THE EYES OF THE PEOPLE. SO AN ELABORATE PLAN HAD TO BE DEVISED - THE ONE THE INSPIRED GOSPELS TELL US ABOUT - Keith Hunt
on the other hand, if the Sanhedrin had indeed found Jesus guilty of a capital offense under Jewish law, it would have regarded his execution, no less than his trial and condemnation, as its own proper function and duty.
NOPE, THEY COULD NOT HAVE DONE SO. THE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE DEMANDED AN EXPLANATION; THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE NOT SILLY ENOUGH TO ALL OF A SUDDEN BRING JESUS FORTH IN PUBLIC, SAID HE WAS GUILTY OF THIS OR THAT, AND TOLD THE PEOPLE TO STONE HIM TO DEATH. THE PEOPLE, JESUS' DISCIPLES, WOULD HAVE CAUSE SUCH AN OUTCRY, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN THOUSANDS THERE TO DEMAND A FULL EXPLANATION; THEY WOULD HAVE PREVENTED ANY "PAID" GUYS TO CAST THE FIRST STONE; THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A RIOT - Keith Hunt
The simplest way out of the difficulty is, of course, to say that, as there was no Sanhedrial trial, equally there was no early morning consultation, and the consultation report was superadded to the trial report only once more to stress, as the text in Matthew would suggest, the deadly enmity of the Jews toward Jesus and their ever-recurring "counsel to put him to death."
YA, THE SIMPLE WAY OUT, FOR PEOPLE LIKE COHN. DENY THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS, SAY THEY WERE ALL FABRICATED, VERY EFFECTIVE STORIES, MADE UP, TO GIVE EVIDENCE OF AN EVIL JEWISH LEADERSHIP SOCIETY, AGAINST CHRISTIANS; THEY WERE PASSAGES OF STORIES ADDED LATER TO THE BASIC GOSPEL ACCOUNTS OF JESUS - Keith Hunt
But even supposing that this consultation report, as distinct from the trial report, was based upon a valid tradition, it might be said—looking back at the events as we have interpreted them—that neither the failure and lamentation of the high priest nor the frustration of the members of the Sanhedrin was enough in their eyes to justify the delivery of Jesus into Roman hands: they still had compunctions, still felt the need to consult with each other, before making a decision which would be irrevocable.
OH YES, COHN CONTINUES WITH HIS BENEVOLENT, KIND, LOVING MIND-SET, OF THE SANHEDRIN; THEY JUST HAD TO BE VERY VERY SURE, THEIR DECISION TO HAND JESUS OVER TO THE ROMAN COURT, WAS THE RIGHT AND ONLY WAY THEY COULD NOW PROCEED - Keith Hunt
Maybe, by this further consulting together, they could find some other, as yet untried, stratagem to persuade Jesus to desist or a pretext to withhold or postpone his surrender for trial; and it was only after such renewed deliberations, unable to discover stratagem or pretext, that they made up their minds.
YES, THEY WERE SO MUCH ON JESUS' SIDE, THEY WANTED JESUS TO DESIST HIS AMBITIOUS PLANS, THEY WANTED TO LOOKED AT HOW THEY COULD WITHHOLD OR POSTPONE HIS SURRENDER FOR TRIAL. AFTER ALL THIS COULD THEY ONLY MAKE THEIR DECISION - Keith Hunt
They saw, and satisfied themselves and each other, that they could do nothing more. They had done everything humanly possible, and now concluded that, in the circumstances, they would have to honor their undertaking and deliver Jesus up for trial.
HOW THEY HAD WORKED, HOW THEY HAD SWEATED, HOW THEY HAD SHED TEARS, HOW THEY HAD SORROWED, HOW THE HIGH PRIEST IN MOURNING HAD RENT HIS GARMENTS. HOW THEY HAD SMITEN AND BUFFETED, AND SLAPT JESUS, TO TRY AND GET HIM TO SEE THE SANHEDRIN WAS ON HIS SIDE, TRYING TO DELIVER HIM FROM THE EVIL ROMANS - MY TONGUE IS IN MY CHEEK AGAIN - Keith Hunt
Whatever forebodings they may have entertained of what that trial might hold in store for Jesus, they had no power to prevent it, or any practical possibility of withholding and concealing Jesus. Not that Jesus had desired to be withheld or concealed, or his trial prevented. And so—as we shall presently see—the members of the Great Sanhedrin left the high priest's palace and dispersed, each going to his home and after his business; and the impending fate of Jesus—and their own inadequacy—must have hung over them like a dark and sinister shadow.
OH HUNG OVER THEM SO DARKLY, SO DARKLY; HEADS BOWED, SADNESS ALL OVER THEIR FACES, SOME SHEDDING A TEAR OR TWO. HOW TERRIBLE: THEY HAD SO TRIED, IN THE OURS OF NIGHT, GETTING OUT OF BED, COMING TOGETHER, WITH SO MUCH LOVE AND CONCERN FOR JESUS. IT WAS HEART-BREAKING THAT HE WOULD NOT LET THEM HELP HIM; HE HAD TURNED DOWN THEIR PLEA FOR HIM TO BOW BEFORE THEM AND GIVE THEM HONOR; THEY JUST WANTED TO HELP; THEY JUST WANTED TO SAVE HIS LIFE, SO HE COULD CONTINUE HIS WONDERFUL WORK, HIS MIRACLES, HIS TEACHING THE PEOPLE THE TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD. HOW THE PEOPLE WOULD MISS HIM, NOTHING BUT SORROW WOULD ENCASE THE JEWISH PEOPLE. OH WHAT A TRAGEDY FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE, THAT SUCH A MIGHTY TEACHER FOR GOD, SHOULD COME TO A CLOSE, IN PROBABLE DEATH BY THE ROMANS……INDEED THE MEMBERS OF THE SANHEDRIN, LEFT, DISPERSED, WITH THE THOUGHTS OF THE IMPENDING FATE OF JESUS, AND THEIR OWN INADEQUACY TO GET HIM ON THEIR SIDE; IT ALL MUST HAVE HUNG OVER THEM LIKE A DARK AND SINISTER SHADOW.
MY TONGUE IS NOW IN BOTH CHEEK - Keith Hunt
WELL IF THIS WAS NOT ALL VERY SERIOUSLY DONE BY HAIM COHN IN HIS BOOK "THE TRIAL AND DEATH OF JESUS" IT WOULD BE LAUGHABLE, ONE OF THE BEST COMEDY STORIES OF ALL TIME.
HOW SOMEONE CAN TWIST, ABOLISH, READ INTO VERSES AND WORDS, IN THE GOSPELS, THAT TURN THE PAIN EASY TO UNDERSTAND WORDS OF THE GOSPEL WRITERS, UPSIDE-DOWN, AND TOPSY-TURVY AND INSIDE-OUT…… IT IS A CLASSIC OF WRONG UNDERSTANDING, WRONG INTERPRETATION, OF BIBLE READING. IT IS A CLASSIC OF PERVERTING THE SCRIPTURES OF THE ETERNAL GOD; OF TWISTING THE SCRIPTURES TO MAKE THEM SAY WHAT YOU IN YOUR IMAGINATION WANT THEM TO SAY.
FORTUNATELY THE WILD IDEAS OF COHN ARE EASY TO SEE, A DECEPTION EASY TO FIND - A DECEPTION FROM THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. BUT MOST DECEPTIONS ARE NO WHERE NEAR THIS EASY TO SEE. MOST RELIGIOUS DECEPTIONS ARE CLOAKED IN WAYS MUCH HARDER TO DICERN FROM THE TRUTH. FOR THOSE MORE NUMEROUS DECEPTIONS, IT TAKES A SEARCHING OF THE SCRIPTURES, DEEP BIBLE STUDY AND READING; IT TAKES A HUNGERING AND THIRSTING FOR THE TRUTH, A LOVE OF THE TRUTH. IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT TO SEARCH OUT THE TRUTH FROM ERROR.
THIS WEBSITE IS DEVOTED TO BRINGING YOU THE TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD FROM THE MANY ERRORS OUT THERE IN CHRISTIANITY. BUT YOU WILL NEED TO HAVE DETERMINATION TO CHECK UP, TO STUDY, TO SPEND TIME IN SEARCHING. IF YOU DO, JESUS HAS PROMISED THAT THE SPIRIT WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH.