The stage for the crucifixions was set in the first century BC, in the political pre-history that has been given in Part A. From a broad historical perspective, the event was nothing more than the attempted executions of three political rebels who had staged a demonstration against Rome, the foreign power that had occupied their country Judea. An incompetent Roman governor was manipulated by partisans of the rebels so as to ensure that the crucifixions were held but aborted. Two of the rebels survived to remain leaders of a persistent underground force. The subsequent changes in the policy of that force, a decade later, were the real reason for the emergence of Christianity.
One of the men crucified should not have been there. He was in fact a sympathizer with Rome. But he was a victim of the internal factions in the underground movement. At the time of their foundation in the 1st century BC they had had a single purpose, to impose on the pagan world a Jewish Kingdom of God, bringing in a religion that had a higher ethical standard and a more intellectual theology than was known in Greco-Roman society. Under Herod the Great (37 to 4 BC) they had achieved considerable success through an effective organization, and a system of taxation of their expatriate members produced great wealth that was used for the advancement of their religion. But following Herod's death and the subsequent occupation of their country by the Romans, their mission had become split into factions, each holding a different opinion about the way it should proceed.
A major difference was on the question of subservience to Rome. Since the insult to their national independence in the form of the Occupation, there was no question in the minds of half their membership that God intended them, by heroic militancy, martyrdom if necessary, to throw off the pagan power. In 6 AD two men, who became honored as great heroes, had led an armed uprising. Judas the Galilean had failed and been put to death by the superior Roman military power. Theudas his deputy had survived, and as an elderly man was still involved with the movement at the time of the crucifixions.
Two of the men on the crosses were current leaders of the martyrs' army. One was Judas Iscariot, who was the successor of Judas the Galilean in practicing unquestioning militancy. The other, the main leader who was on the central cross, was Simon Magus. He was the successor of a line of Magians that had influenced Herod the Great. Simon was an extraordinary personality with a powerful intellect that made him the original of the legend of Doctor Faust. He was the friend and mentor of the third man, although they had factional differences.
The third man, who was strung up on the western one of the three gibbets, was Jesus. He is incorrectly called Jesus of Nazareth - the term "Nazarene" simply described a stage of the ascetic discipline that he was going through at the time of the crucifixion. He was a physical descendant of a royal line of Davids, the dynasty that a thousand years before had unified the country and had supplied the imagery of a sacred kingship. But they now had no political power, and their prestige had been eclipsed by Herod and his successors.
Once the Herodian monarchy had failed following Herod's death, opening the way for the Roman Occupation of 6 AD, effective religious rule was exercised by high priests whom the Romans approved. Some of them were Sadducees, some Pharisees. The Annas dynasty of Sadducees gained their status by active co-operation with Rome. Representing an upper class, they embraced hellenistic learning and a high standard of education. It was taken for granted that the Herods were finished and they had replaced them. The project of spreading the Kingdom of God to the Diaspora continued. When the Sadducees were in power they taught peace with Rome and integration with the best elements of Greco-Roman culture.
Sadducee rule covered many secular matters such as the collection of taxes paid to Rome, giving their high priest the nickname the Tax-collector. At the same time there was sentiment among the people for a purely spiritual leadership. Under the Herods, the mystical associations of the Davids had been encouraged when the grandfather of Jesus, a man named Heli, saw his opportunity and allied with Herod. With the rising Roman empire there was a resurgence of the powerful political myth of a divine kingship, a myth that was particularly effective in the east. While the parvenu Herods could hardly qualify, the ancient symbolism of the Davids gave them an entrée to Gentiles. Heli was made a patriarch in the organization of a New Israel, and his descendants after him would hold the same office. Under the Annas priests after 6 AD a David was made a deputy, although with limited functions, religious duties only, but with special responsibility for the growing numbers of Gentiles who were attracted to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus, the son of Joseph the son of Heli, shared the political outlook of the Annas priests. With his family he had spent part of his youth in Rome, and had acquired a respect for Greco-Roman values. He had formed close friendships with Gentiles and, although they were kept in a subordinate position as converts to the Jewish mission, he privately believed that their intellectual standards were equal to or even better than those of his Jewish compatriots. Jesus would not have gone to the cross as an associate of militant anti-Roman zealots if it had not been for a new intrusive factor changing the political scene in the 20's AD.
Herod the Great in his final autocratic years had become ruthlessly vengeful, fearing that his sons and their associates were plotting against him, as was indeed the case. From his nine wives many sons were born, and during his last few years their hopes of succession were destroyed by assassination. Two of his adult sons from his aristocratic Hasmonean wife Mariamme I were put to death. One of these had had a son called Agrippa, born 11 BC. Like all the Herod princes he was sent to Rome for his education, and there became the subject of romantic fantasy as the survivor of the royal line. His personal qualities helped him regain the friendship with the Roman court that Herod had had, and he moved in the highest imperial circles. As he matured, he was encouraged by Jewish supporters in Rome to aspire to the recovery of the Herodian monarchy.
Agrippa was likely to succeed because of the glamour of his dynasty, especially when the reign of Tiberius came to an end. In the 20's AD the thrifty Tiberius expelled the Jewish prince from Rome as a result of his reckless spending on influence, resulting in his bankruptcy. Back in his own country, saved by his family from an attempt at suicide, he came back into touch with the ascetics and their mission. Under Herod the Great, considerable wealth had flowed in from the Diaspora, technically belonging to Herod for such purposes as renovating the temple. Once the Qumran site was abandoned in 31 BC following an earthquake, Herod had used recesses in the building to store the money. The Copper Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls is the inventory of the deposits. Once Agrippa returned, badly in need of money to repay his debts, he could claim that the money stored at Qumran belonged to him.
But not all of the Herod family agreed. Agrippa's sister Herodias was married to another relative, Antipas Herod the tetrarch of Galilee. He had remained in the country after the monarchy was abolished, not aspiring himself to any kind of power, but looking after the interests of the mission because of the family involvement. There had been a schism in the family after the death of Herod the Great, when the succession became the subject of a lawsuit in Rome. Antipas had lost out, and in Rome the two factions of Jews, one monarchist, the other anti-monarchist, frequented their two different houses, not associating with each other. The factions continued after Agrippa's return to the country, and Antipas, having remained there administering the property, had some right to object to Agrippa's helping himself to it.
Jesus the son of Joseph, born 7 BC, was in his late twenties at the time of Agrippa's return, and he witnessed the destructiveness of the Herods. Details given in the pesher imply that Joseph was put to death in 23 AD, and that it was through the agency of Agrippa. Since 6 AD the Davids as subordinates of the high priests had lived by a mystique that was like that of royalty, and Joseph would have opposed both Agrippa's pretensions and his attempts to raid the mission money. The Davids had already parted from the Herods at the time Herod the Great rejected the Temple Scroll, putting an end to their hopes of restoring their kind of liturgy to the Jerusalem temple. There was no prospect of Jesus' supporting the ambitious Agrippa.
The separation from Herod the Great in 21 BC had been initiated by the Magus of the day, either Menahem the Essene or his successor. The Magians continued their hostility to the Herodian monarchy, and Simon Magus with his immense personal influence went further, claiming all the titles that Herod the Great had bestowed on himself. With strong support from Diaspora Jews, Simon could foresee taking over authority in the mission, and when the Kingdom came that they all were working for, becoming head of a new cultural empire.
Simon's politics were, then, both anti-Rome and anti-Agrippa. The politics of Jesus were also anti-Agrippa, but normally pro-Rome. However, the youthful Jesus found Simon's sophistication and intellectual strength a source of inspiration. At times when Rome presented a face that appeared evil, Jesus would side with Simon.
The first Annas Sadducee priest, Ananus the Elder, had benefited the country greatly by bringing political peace. He had a long reign, and after him five sons were appointed high priests in the Jerusalem temple. Each had only a short reign because of intensifying factional issues, remaining in power only while Rome was experienced as benign. Before becoming the public high priest, each was a member of the ascetic movement, even though it followed a different liturgical calendar. The ascetics with their great influence among Diaspora Jews acted as a lobby group to bring about the desired election of the high priest. Consequently a Sadducee could be acting in the manner of a high priest before his appointment to the office. The term "Chief Priest" (archiereus) was applied to him during this phase, and it is used in the pesher in this sense.
Jonathan Annas was the candidate for office in the time of Jesus. The five Annas sons varied in personality and consequently in emphasis on aspects of their heritage. Jonathan Annas, the second of the five, appears to have had less personal integrity, with a greater dependence on the privileges of his priestly office. Later in his life he is presented by Josephus as an interfering busybody, annoying the Roman governor rather than co-operating with him. (Josephus, Antiquities 20, 162-164)
Jonathan was one of the several factors complicating the situation of Jesus. On the two most significant issues he and Jesus were on the same side. Both stood for peace with Rome, encouraging the advancement of Gentiles. Jesus as the descendant of the Davids should have continued in the successful structure of the years following 6 AD, as the deputy of Jonathan, looking after spiritual matters and especially Gentiles. There was another matter on which Jonathan was a positive influence. The legitimacy of Jesus was denied by ascetic Pharisees because he had been conceived pre-nuptially by Joseph and Mary, in breach of extremely strict Essene rules. The ascetic Sadducees were more liberal on such questions, accepting that the binding betrothal was as good as a wedding. Jonathan affirmed that Jesus was the true descendant and should hold the office of the David when the Kingdom came. In this he agreed with Simon Magus, for the Magians were even more liberal in such respects.
But on another matter there was conflict between them, the matter that was most important to Jesus and would be a primary reason for the emergence of the Christian party. Jonathan placed great value on his privileges as a priest. Among Diaspora Jews the influence of Hellenism had gone so far as to permit treating a priest as a superhuman being, between man and God. It was possible for the hellenised Sadducees to encourage the idea that they were incarnations of God. That was a common notion among pagans, a powerful leader said to be at least semi-divine, the product of a union between a god and a mortal woman. Jonathan Annas was willing to be addressed as "God". In his presence, people were as if in the presence of God. He was carried around in a palanquin, prevented from stepping directly on the "unclean" ground on which ordinary mortals stood. For his critics, he was a "paralytic", unable to walk.
Jonathan's deputy Jesus was consequently given the title "Son of God". Carried over into popular Christian usage, it has made Jesus an actual divine figure, its origins in a past hellenistic culture forgotten.
The particular development of doctrine that was the creation of Jesus was that the understanding of priesthood must change, to the extent of abolishing the hereditary Jewish priesthood. For millennia, due to the circumstances of their origin, only men born into the tribe of Levi could officiate as priests in the temple. Men born into the other tribes were classed as lay only, inevitably subordinate. The messianic expectations of the ascetics had conceived of two Messiahs, a priestly Messiah of Aaron and a lay Messiah of Israel, the latter given a secondary place in the ritual.
The Davids, especially the original King David, had exercised some priestly functions, as is shown in the records. For Jesus, it was a recapture of that role to claim that he himself was a priest, so that he as a layman could combine the two Messiahs, being both high priest and king. Moreover - and this was the revolutionary step - the lay priests who officiated under his leadership could include Gentiles. Even the most "unclean" ones, those who were married, could be ordained. The main subject of the "miracles" of the gospels was the action of Jesus in bringing about the great change. It meant, in effect, not only the abolition of the Jewish priesthood, but the abandonment of the primacy of Judaism in the existing mission organization.
Early in his ministry the attitudes of Jesus on this question were illustrated in the episode of the "healing of the paralytic" (Mark 2:1-12). Jonathan Annas, the "paralytic" had been brought in his palanquin to the roof of a village house, to which he condescendingly came because it was a center for Diaspora members. After offering the usual rooftop prayers at noon, he was let down on his ornamental stretcher to the porch of the house, where he would give blessings on those who came to him to be "healed", that is initiated or promoted. He would first "forgive their sins", that is pronounce the absolution that only a priest was qualified to give. Jesus was standing there as bishop, ready to advise him on the merits of applicants. But Jesus turned to Jonathan and said, "Your sins are forgiven". He took over the priest's role of pronouncing the absolution and applied it to Jonathan, who by definition was infallible. Then he went on to say, " Lift up your palanquin and walk". Jesus would keep the lay and priestly roles in balance by acting in a way no different from ordinary men, without privilege of birth.
It was this attack on Jonathan that made Jesus' colleague nurse a secret grudge against him, a grudge that held Jonathan back when he should have helped at the crucifixion. Jonathan supplied the poison that would enable Jesus to commit suicide when the agony of the execution method became too great. Although he subsequently regretted his action and helped Jesus' recovery - as Jesus himself made sure of including in the records - he remained an unhelpful influence during the following years. It was his brother Matthew Annas, the sponsor of Matthew's gospel, who would continue the process that the original Ananus had begun.
The Christian party that finally emerged from those turbulent years gained a subtle revenge. They put the name of Pontius Pilate into the Apostles' Creed, repeated by millions of Christians for two millennia. The pesher of the gospels gives a more discerning account, of a weak man, known by Rome to be incapable, who had been personally attracted by the religion of the mission. He had consequently become vulnerable to pressure from its different factions, and these were played out in his actions on Good Friday.
Appointed as procurator of Judea in 26 AD, he was responsible for one blunder after another, offending Jewish religious prejudices. He brought his troops into the holy city of Jerusalem carrying their standards on which were effigies of the emperor, who for Jews was a foreign god. He spent money from the sacred temple treasury to construct an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem. It was a good purpose in itself, but temple money was reserved for strictly religious purposes. An insurrection followed, with multitudes demonstrating in the streets of Jerusalem. His method of dealing with it was to order his soldiers to dress in Jewish garments, under which they carried clubs. They mingled with the crowds and when the signal was given inflicted indiscriminate blows. Jews fought back as well as they could, but many were slain, while others withdrew, wounded.
It was very probably this event that is referred to in Luke 13:1, concerning the Galileans "whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices". Luke gives it a date in terms of the concealed chronology, in December 32 AD. That action was the immediate cause of the crucifixions. As the pesher shows, the insurrection had been led by a triarchy of Priest, Prophet and King - Simon Magus, Judas Iscariot, and Theudas, the elderly hero from the great days of Judas the Galilean. They failed in their purpose of overthrowing the Romans, and went into hiding. Simon Magus, also called Lazarus, hid in Cave 4 at Qumran, which was the burial and excommunication cave of the Pope. He was condemned by the pro-Roman faction in the mission, and Jesus took part in his re-instatement when he "raised Lazarus". Jesus acted out of personal sympathy with his friend, although he himself had not taken part in the insurrection.
The three remained in hiding for months, knowing that they would be arrested by Pilate if he was given the opportunity. The time came for their Passover council meeting at Qumran in March 33 AD. Qumran had become a secret desert headquarters for the militants, and it was believed that Pilate did not know it. It would take a traitor, in the service of a rival faction, to alert him to the presence of the leaders there in March. Judas Iscariot became that traitor.
It is a central belief of traditional Christianity that the Last Supper was a foundation event, one that received a previously unknown significance. Jesus brought together his twelve apostles on the Thursday evening before Good Friday, as a Passover observance. He then did something new, giving them first bread and then wine, blessing each element. Of the bread he said "This is my body", and of the wine, "This is my blood which is shed for you". The words have become the formula repeated at each celebration of the Eucharist, at the heart of all Christian observance.
Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it has not been possible to maintain the belief that it was a new, unique event. From the Community Rule there comes the information that the Qumran ascetics held a meeting every evening, "for a third of every night of the year". Bread and new wine were blessed and eaten. Ten men were present, together with a priest and levite. The meal was an anticipation of the time in the future when the Messiah of Aaron and Messiah of Israel would come, blessing the wine and bread with solemn ceremony.
No amount of emphasis on the differences between the two communities, especially the two Messiahs, should be allowed to negate the fact that there were such close parallels that there must have been a connection. When the numerous other parallels between Qumran and the earliest Christian church are taken into account, no qualified historian should refuse to follow up the two related sources for a historical event of the greatest importance.
The Last Supper was, in fact, one of the regular evening meetings that characterized the Qumran community. It was held at Qumran. It lasted four hours, from 6 pm to 10 pm, a third of the 12 hours of the night. Bread and wine were blessed and taken, in this case fermented wine. Jesus did bless the elements, and did say the words of the formula. But the context in which he said them puts a different light on the whole matter. The meal was an occasion for debate at a regular council meeting, and what was said reflected a current crisis of relevance to the council.
The council was far from being the spontaneous collection of friends of Jesus that the surface story seems to show. It was the supreme council of the mission that had successfully spread through the Diaspora for more than a century previously. Herod the Great's organization had divided the Diaspora for purposes of taxation into 12 provinces, from Babylon in the far east to Rome in the far west. The head of each province was a member of the supreme council and came on great occasions to councils at Qumran where important political decisions were made. Qumran functioned as the Vatican does now. The council meeting on the Thursday night took place in an atmosphere of high tension because of the claims of competing factions for money and power.
Moreover, the three insurrectionists wanted by Pilate were all members of the council - Simon Magus, who appears in the lists of names as Simon the Zealot; Judas, and Theudas, who appears in the lists as Thaddeus. They were there at risk to themselves, to justify their failure in the uprising and to plan for future dealings with Rome. Their internal intrigues were enough to make them aware that a malcontent could notify Pilate and they could suffer the death penalty.
The close detail of their seating arrangements and disputes are given through the pesher and may be followed from the Word-for-Word of all four gospels, which agree with each other on the facts. Their apparent difference is that each brings out an aspect of the matter of interest to its own emphasis, for each of them still preserved different emphases on the matter of priesthood and laity.
The four hour session was held in the Qumran vestry, loc. 101. See further on the placement of the tables in Locations. It was divided into two parts, from 6 to 8 pm at what became a common table, further down in the room. In that part the conventions of the married village class were followed. They also held regular observances with bread and wine, but in a relaxed fashion. At their monthly meetings the money for the welfare funds was handed over. It was intended for charitable purposes for which Essene villagers were well known.
The second part, from 8 pm to 10 pm, was treated as much more sacred, held at a holy table further up the room. It corresponded to the evening meal in an abbey, an institution that was derived from the Essene monastery. Whereas in monasteries it was the noon meal that was the sacred one, in abbeys it was the evening meal, because abbeys were the schools developed by Therapeuts, who were so devoted to their meditative studies that they did not eat in the daytime.
The bread that was eaten consisted of 12 loaves, baked on the premises. They corresponded to the 12 loaves of the Presence from Old Testament times. These originally reflected the 12 tribes, and were first offered to God as thanksgiving for the harvest, then given to the priests, who ate them on behalf of God. In the Essene monasteries they were at first part of the necessary daily food, using grain brought to them by supporters, for nothing would grow in that arid region. The leading 12 men shared 12 loaves between them, originally at two meals. At noon they sat at the holy table, 6 on either side, and ate 6 of the loaves by sharing each one between two men sitting side by side. In the evening they repeated the method, so that each man, taking half a loaf at each meal, had thus had a full loaf in the day. The principle of sharing that they had learned the hard way in their exile was thus given the greatest possible expression.
The abbey meal in the evening changed the noon sacred meal to 8 pm, but otherwise the procedure was the same. At the Last Supper, however, there were 13 present, and when Jesus said "This is my body", it did not seem to be appropriate to a full loaf or half-loaf.
There had been a development from the structure among village Essenes. Their meetings were held in private houses, belonging to a married man. His wife and sons and daughters could be present. The wife was sometimes permitted to join in, making a 13th at the common table. The system of 6 on either side did not allow room for her, but the table was not at first put in place, allowing her to stand in its position during the process of handing over the welfare funds. When it was put in place she joined the 6 on the south side of the table, the lowest row, and the husband took what then became a 13th place on the north side. The visiting priest and levite who attended these occasions to give the blessing sat further back from the table, and the husband sat in front of them at the table, forming a triangle at the top. This triangle, after a long process, became that of Father (priest), Son (levite) and Holy Spirit (the husband as bishop).
As the mission of ascetics including Essenes spread through the Diaspora in the 1st century BC, Gentiles from the Greco-Roman world began to be attracted to it. They wanted its learning including its theology, as well as the strong community bonds that the ascetics had developed. Some Gentiles fully adopted Jewish identity and were circumcised, called proselytes. Others chose to retain their own ethnic identity and remained uncircumcised, valuing only the spiritual teaching. Since uncircumcision made them the physical equivalents of women, and since as non-Jewish they were "unclean" just as women became periodically "unclean", these Gentiles were at first equated with women. Some Gentiles were in fact distinguished Roman men, and such a man could become a 13th at a village table in the place of the woman.
The problem of bread needed for the woman, necessarily additional to the 12 shared loaves, was solved by good housekeeping. When the loaves were broken to be shared, crumbs or fragments fell on the table. These too were holy as they came from consecrated loaves. They were collected and put in containers. The smallest crumbs were put in a small container which was given to the woman. When it was given to her, the words "This is my body" were used, because one of the biblical images used for the woman was that she was an Eve, the "body" to the "soul" who was Adam, the husband. The image was applied also to the Gentile 13th. The crumbs became the small pieces of bread that are used in the Christian communion, the container holding them becoming the monstrance in which they were displayed.
At the Last Supper, Jesus was at first merely the equivalent of the husband, the third in the triangle. The visiting priest was Jonathan Annas, who had become Pope following the failure of Simon Magus. His levite was Judas Iscariot. The Gentile who began as the 13th was John Mark, a celibate who was the representative of Jesus, likened to a woman as the Beloved Disciple. These sat with the other council members at the common table from 6 to 8 pm. Then for the sacred part at 8 pm Jesus claimed the position of "Son", the levite beside Jonathan Annas, and was given it. He had been in the place of the third man, the bishop, while he was in the married state, as he had been during the past four years. But since his wife Mary Magdalene was pregnant he was in the process of returning to the monastery following the dynastic rule. He would not begin his actual return until midnight, but at 8 pm he was on his way back, and Annas willingly gave him the place as he stood for peace with Rome, against Judas. Judas was then treated as the bishop, the other 13th, and was finally excluded from the table.
Judas then took his opportunity of sending a messenger on horseback to Jerusalem, to inform Pilate of the whereabouts of the insurrectionists he wanted. Judas himself had been one of them, but had received a promise from Agrippa, whom he supported, that he would be granted a pardon in exchange for his information. The messenger took 3 hours by the Jericho road, arriving in Jerusalem at midnight. Pilate left at 3 am and arrived at Qumran at 6 am.
The men left the vestry at 9:55 pm at the conclusion of their four hours. Exact times in minutes were known to them by the use of oil lamps which had long been part of their science of time. Each lamp, part of the Menorah, contained oil that would burn down for an hour, the minutes marked by gradations on the metal cylinder.
They spent a few minutes at the pillar bases in loc 100 that stood a minute's walk away from the vestry, then after 2 more minutes reached the outer hall, loc 77, at 10:00 pm. Here they stayed for two more hours, very much aware of the danger they were in. Jesus in particular was faced with a severe moral crisis.
The issue that affected all of them was the belief they were committed to uphold, that the long delayed prophecy of the Restoration would be fulfilled that night. When they had first been expelled from the Jerusalem temple in the 3rd century BC they had turned to their solar calendar, which they believed was followed by Heaven in order to determine when to send great events. The crises would come at the regular sub-divisions of history, at the sets of 490 years. At the 8th set from creation the Restoration of the Zadokite priests and the David kings to their rightful position in the Jerusalem temple would come. They had no scruples about arguing backwards from the significance of a present event to the date of creation. They consequently kept changing the Restoration, believing that it was about to come, then adjusting when there was no fulfillment. They had performed frequent calendar manoeuvres which were mathematically if not historically justified, with the effect that the year 33 AD should now see the fulfillment. Moreover, it should come near the March equinox, on the 31st which for the solar calendar occurred only once every quarter. For those who had adopted additionally the Julian calendar, as was the case for Diaspora members, the 31st, Friday March 20, would begin at midnight.
If it came, which priest and king would Heaven restore by its miraculous intervention? There had once been only the Zadokite and the David. But Herod the Great had claimed to be both Messiah of Aaron and Messiah of Israel. Agrippa, aspiring to restore the Herodian monarchy, was making the same claim. If Heaven pointed at him, it would prove he was right. But the Davids had turned against the Herods, and Simon Magus was backing them in opposing Agrippa and expecting power for himself. He had taken on the functions of the Zadokite since the death of John the Baptist. Which party would receive Heaven's approval? And if Simon's militants lost out, the door was wide open for Agrippa to hand them over to Pilate for execution as insurrectionists.
The highly educated leaders probably did not believe in the prophecy, but were aware of its political force with less educated men like Peter. Agrippa also saw it as a political tool to be manipulated for his purposes. It was as good as certain that he would gain power that night when Simon was humiliated. Agrippa arrived at Qumran during the evening, ready for his victory.
For Jesus, that was only one of his sources of conflict during the next two hours. His anguish is depicted in the gospels. He had acted as a deputy to Simon, not for military aggression, but out of opposition to Agrippa. That would be the reason why Agrippa would pick on him and muddy the issues so that Jesus was convicted as an accomplice of Simon in all respects.
If Jesus chose, he had a practical way out of his dilemma. Following the rule of dynasts, he could begin returning to the monastery at midnight, being no longer in the married state. He was then no longer a third man, but one who was entitled to live in the monastery and be concealed in its dark recesses, protected by monks who had renounced all political activity. That would be a just way of dealing with the fact that he ought not to die as a militant, for he was the very opposite of an armed warrior.
A married dynast returning to the monastery had a choice whether to return as quickly as he possibly could at midnight, or whether to show his affection for the married men he had been with by delaying his return until their time for rising, at 3 am, or for starting work at 4 am. A cockcrowing signal announced these times. Jesus was close to Peter and to Gentiles, all of whom were classed with the married no matter what their style of life. He had already chosen to return at 3am, at the cockcrowing.
But the science of time that had been highly developed by the Pythagorean Essenes gave another possible let-out. Every 17 years their measuring instruments had to be adjusted because they were 3 hours fast. The reason was that their method of intercalation of the solar calendar was not perfectly accurate, but put in about 11 minutes too much each year. When the excess amounted to 3 hours, there was a device for adjustment, the (See "Three Hours' Darkness". It would not be carried out until noon on Friday, and in the meantime there were two sets of hours in operation, the true hour and the one that was 3 hours fast. The hour of midnight was also the fast 3 am. Jesus could preserve his loyalty to villagers by using the fast time, thus escaping at midnight into the monastery after all.
But he knew what the true time was, being well versed in calendar science. He chose the true time, which meant that he would wait until the 3 am cockcrowing. He was therefore still in the outside world, and would be vulnerable to arrest at midnight if Agrippa got his way.
While still in the married state he was, more exactly, a Nazirite, a term used for a married man who took short term spiritual retreats away from his family. Jesus was a Nazirite only at intervals during the gospel period. A Nazirite did not drink wine, forbidden by a longstanding Old Testament law. At the Last Supper Jesus had taken wine as an equal of a village initiate like Peter. But by abbey rules where marital status made for social divisions, he was a Nazirite while in the higher married state, not returned to celibacy.
Other men in the outer hall, following the looser discipline of an abbey, drank from another cup of fermented wine at every hour after midnight as part of a vigil. Jesus would still be a Nazirite until the true 3 am. When it was suggested to him that he should follow the fast time and treat 10 pm as 1 am, 11 pm as 2 am, and midnight as 3 am, he refused, saying to the abbot Annas, "Take this cup from me". His words would take on another meaning the following afternoon when he was offered another cup on the cross.
At midnight Agrippa arrived in the outer hall, certain of his power as soon as the prophecy failed. He arrested Simon Magus immediately, and set in train preparations for his trial by priests in the court at the north end of the north vestry. Sure of now gaining full authority over the mission, Agrippa brought with him those who would be successors in the three highest offices. He himself would succeed Simon as Priest, and, since Judas still had to be finally cleared, a successor was appointed as levite, a man named Eleazar of Galilee who appears in Josephus, Antiquities 20, 43. He acted as levite to Agrippa, not to Simon. The successor of Jesus as the King also came with Agrippa. He was James the brother of Jesus, who on a Pharisee definition was the legitimate David. Certain of the power he was now to take on, he called himself Malchus, the Greek from Hebrew melek, "king".
With Agrippa stood the priests, Caiaphas the reigning Pharisee high priest, and Jonathan Annas the Sadducee of the alternate Annas line. The wily Agrippa always played the different Jewish parties off against one another, favoring now Pharisees, now Sadducees. Jonathan, who was not as strong a character as his brothers, at this time had found it expedient to ally with Agrippa, especially as Agrippa had succeeded in bringing together all three Herods, Thomas as his acting crown prince and Antipas who had come to terms with him although he could also oppose him at times.
Without delay Simon was sent to the court in the north vestry to be tried by Caiaphas and Annas. After only a 20 minute hearing it was determined that he should be sent before Pilate as an enemy of Rome, for which the punishment was crucifixion. Pilate was expected to arrive by 6 am following the message that Judas had sent to him, and the return of the messenger confirming that he was coming.
At the same time as the arrest of Simon, Jesus was arrested, unjustly, as his militant accomplice. Jesus' trial by Annas alone - since he was less important - was held in the court at 12:30 am. In the course of it he succeeded in discrediting his judge Annas, by revealing under questioning that in Diaspora mission Annas actually worked in co-operation with Simon Magus. Agrippa, furious, reduced Annas' status, giving him a reason for revenge against Jesus Another trial of Jesus was arranged, this time under the rules of the Therapeuts independently of Agrippa.
In the few minutes before Jesus' half-hour trial under Agrippa had begun, the suspicion was expressed that Peter, who was sitting in the corridor of the court as a doorkeeper, was also a Magian. Since Peter was known to be a close associate of Jesus, there was some reason for it, although Peter also was in favor of the peaceful Sadducee method of mission. He was briefly questioned, and in the course of it was said not to have denied evidence of having said, "I will break down this sanctuary made with a hand and in 3 days build another one not made with a hand." He was credited with asserting with these words that at a certain date he would separate from Qumran and its substitute sanctuary and from its method of taxation for the welfare system - money on which Agrippa relied for his projects. He would establish an alternate mission which would charge no fees and taxes, only receive gifts. That was the method of financial support endorsed by Jesus. The date when this would happen is conveyed in calendar terms, in 43 AD, a decade hence. In that year the north solar calendar would make its quartodecimal change from its Night position to its Day position. The 31st would then fall, not on a Friday, but on a Tuesday, Day 3 of the week. ("Three days" like all nouns with numbers is understood by the pesharist to mean "Day 3"). It was in fact in 43 AD that the Christian party including Peter separated and established a new center in Antioch.
According to all four gospels, Peter denied Jesus three times while Jesus was being tried by priests, and his denials had already been predicted by Jesus in a saying about the 3 am cockcrowing. "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice."
Because of the fast times, there were two different cockcrowing signals, sounded by the lowest levite Merari, the "cock", standing on the north pillar base outside the vestry. The first one for the fast time was heard at 12:05 am as the fast 3:05 am, the second one at the true 3:05 am. In those three hours Peter had denied Jesus on every hour, at 1:05, 2:05 and 3:05 am.
The verb "deny" has the special meaning of denying that a man was high priest. It was the opposite of "confess", meaning to uphold a man's high priesthood. This was a period when there were many claimants to the position of high priest, due to Herod the Great's high-handed policy of appointing high priests at will, without much regard for their descent from the tribe of Levi. The atmosphere of the times gave Jesus good reason to make his claim, drawing on the precedent of his ancestor King David. For those who accepted him, Jesus was "the apostle and high priest of our confession." (Hebrews 3:1). But Peter, more conservative, accustomed to looking to the Annas priests who had been the religious leaders since 6AD, thought it was scandalous that a layman could act as if he were a full priest, and even be qualified to be high priest. Jesus was the Christ, the legitimate David, but only the Christ, the deputy and subordinate of an Annas priest. When Peter blurted out to Jesus "You are the Christ", it was not the discovery of a messianic secret, as scholars have assumed, but an attempt to put Jesus in his place. The word "Christian" was coined by Peter to express his belief, in 1 Peter 4:16. It was for that reason that Paul, who accepted Jesus' priesthood, did not use the word.
During the night when Jesus was again being tried, Peter in the doorway spoke and acted in a way that denied Jesus in that sense. He did so by his actions on every hour at the time prayers were being offered. Jesus was able to predict what he would do as he knew the system of prayers and Peter's attitudes. But Peter was at the same time a known fellow-missionary with Jesus, agreeing with him whole-heartedly on the initiation and promotion of uncircumcised Gentiles.
Jesus was tried by Annas at 1:05 am, Caiaphas at 2:05 am, and the negative verdict was given by Annas at 3:05 am. It was undoubtedly influenced by Agrippa through his two priests. Jesus also would be sent before Pilate. At 3:05 am he was sent to the position treated as a prison, under the edge of the platform above where prayers were offered. Peter remained in the corridor down from the doorway. There were empty spaces between them. Luke shows that Jesus at this point turned and looked at Peter, in a dramatic moment.
Then Peter "remembered", and the cockcrowing saying was repeated. By the use of a device of pesher it is shown that the situation had changed. Peter still had a chance of having his Sadducee party approved by Heaven, at the next cockcrowing starting the actual working day. When 4:00 came and he saw that they had been passed over, it was he who gave the saying to Jesus, including the fact that Jesus denied him - would refuse to allow him to exercise priesthood while he was not in a celibate state. Peter went out and "wept bitterly". By an impolite joke, the meaning is that he visited the pilgrims' latrine in the southwestern sector of the Qumran grounds at the set time of 4:05 am.
Because of the fast times there was a gap between the true 3 am and 6 am, for 3 am was the fast 6 am. Luke alone fills in what happened between the true 4 am and 6 am. It was a time when Agrippa, believing that he now had no rivals, asserted his power as both Messiahs. His admirers assented, but at the same time it is shown that there was secret dissidence, even among his own relatives.
The trials by Pilate were held in the open air, at the pair of pillar bases in loc 100. It was intended that Simon Magus the ringleader would be tried in the first half hour, then Jesus as his deputy in the next half hour. But the plan for Jesus' trial changed when Judas, as the levitical deputy to Simon, who had hoped for protection from Agrippa, lost his support and was forced to give himself up. Judas was tried by Pilate and condemned to crucifixion as the second man.
That left a difficult decision to be made, as to who should die as the third man. In the insurrection of December it had undoubtedly been Theudas, who formed a militant triarchy with Simon and Judas. But he was now an old man, and a hero from the famous days of Judas the Galilean. Jesus was also a deputy of Simon, although innocent on the matter of the insurrection.
When the trials began, Antipas Herod began to form a plan that was carried out during the day and was responsible for the "resurrection". Its purpose was to protect Theudas, and also to rescue both Simon Magus and Jesus by playing on the vulnerabilities of Pilate. His misguided actions, offending Jewish religious sensibilities, had caused the insurrection in the first place, and he was in danger of punishment from Rome, which intended to govern its colonies well and to respect local religions. If he committed any more offences, the complaints of the Jewish priests would be listened to.
Antipas schemed to save Theudas from the suffering of crucifixion, which he would not be able to endure at his age. Jesus, a much younger man, should be convicted instead of Theudas, on the thin evidence that he was an accomplice, and both he and Simon Magus would be rescued by means that those familiar with the caves at Qumran could exploit. Since the method of crucifixion meant that the victims were left for days or even weeks on the crossses, Antipas would ensure that the men were taken down after only a few hours and put in a place from which they could be retrieved. All he had to do was take advantage of the fact that it was Friday, and the sabbath would begin Friday evening. He only had to convince Pilate that it would be a breach of the sabbath rule if the hanged men were left on the crosses overnight. At Qumran there were caves used as dungeons, and Antipas would assure Pilate that they could be employed to change the method of execution to burial alive - without telling Pilate about their further features.
Another factor is brought out in the accounts. When, in Rome, a colonial governor was being prepared for a term of duty in the troublesome province of Judea, he was entertained in one of the houses of the Herods in the capital. When Pilate was being prepared for his term, he frequented the house of Antipas on the Tiber Island. It had long been used for mission to paganism, and Pilate became personally interested in the form of the Jewish religion that was taught by the ascetics. He received initiation, and when he came to Judea he studied further and was given a degree, that of a graduate of the ascetic schools. He continued to frequent Antipas' houses, including one on the Mount of Olives, and while there he had met Jesus and been very much impressed by him.
On the Friday morning he was told that Jesus was to be tried as a militant accomplice of Simon, and he found it hard to believe. He continued to resist it during the next three hours. After accepting the clear evidence against Simon Magus and condemning him to death, he took the opportunity of a private conversation with Jesus, in the course of which Jesus showed that he knew of Pilate's membership, which could affect his impartiality. Simon Magus at the beginning of his trial had also shown that he knew, for in Antipas' house in Rome Simon was often present and had taken part in the instruction of Pilate. This information about the governor should not be passed on to Rome, and Pilate was under threat from the start.
Once Judas had been handed over and tried instead of Jesus, it was a relief to Pilate. But then he was made aware that he had another problem. The third man should be Theudas, but the conspirators were urging him to condemn Jesus to crucifixion in order to save Theudas. They could exercise considerable moral sway over him.
He was, moreover, subject to yet another pressure. The cynical old emperor Tiberius had often remarked that provincial governors were bound to accept bribes, and nothing could be done about it . (Josephus, Antiquities 18, 172). Pilate was a weak enough character to turn to this method of solving the problem. He began to solicit the different advisers for money, playing off one against the other. Antipas was by far the richest Herod, for he had stayed in the country from 6 AD after the monarchy was abolished and continued to receive the mission income that belonged to the Herods. It was his bribe that eventually won. When Pilate "washed his hands" and took no action to save Jesus, the meaning was that he was drawing on his membership of the mission organization to receive the welfare money that could legally be paid to a bishop.
At 7 am Theudas was formally tried and acquitted, and at 8 am Jesus was tried, and condemned by 9 am after further financial assistance to Pilate. The crucifixions of the three men, Simon as the Priest, Judas as the Levite-Prophet, and Jesus as the King, were carried out from 9 am.
As shown in Locations and in Figure 2B in Locations, the three gibbets stood on a sloping line in the "unclean" area of the Qumran monastery between the exclusion cistern loc 91and the row of cubicles, loc 97, that the archeologists took to be stables but were too narrow for that purpose. They were latrines, the more northern part used by priests, below it by pilgrims. The grounds were divided into segments of 12 cubits. The dividing line of the segment, where the superiors stood to supervise the crucifixions, may be called row 12. Counting started again in the next segment, with rows 1, 2, etc. The western gibbet on which Jesus as the third man would hang consisted of a tree trunk 12 cubits high (6 yards, 18 feet) and 1 cubit (18 inches) thick, placed in a deep hole in the ground beside rows 3 and 4.
The process began at the true 9:00 am. The Synoptics say it was 9 am, while John's gospel says it was noon, an apparent discrepancy. Both mean the same time, the true 9 am which was also the fast noon. Simon and Judas were hung on their gibbets, central and eastern, at 9:05 am. Jesus as the least important third man would hang on the western one, and not until half an hour later, at 9:35 am.The actual cross.
It becomes apparent from the close detail of the pesher that the word ho stauros, "the cross", does not refer to the gibbet, the post for hanging, but to a related object, a T-shaped discipline-board. The harsh ascetic discipline for monastic missionaries had introduced the custom of tying to their backs a board, half a cubit (9 inches) wide and 2 1/2 cubits long. It was tied by cloths, one round the chest, another round the waist. While worn it kept the man upright, preventing sleeping when that was required. He could move his head, but behind it was the crossbar of this object, 2 cubits wide and a half-cubit broad. It thus had three squares each of half a cubit, on each side if his head,with one above his head. On them his titles were written in the three current languages, Latin on his left or west side, Greek as the main language above his head, and Hebrew on his right or east side. The object thus had the shape of a smaller cross, and the man who wore it as a discipline board was literally carrying his cross as an emblem of willing suffering.
When the man was hoisted on the crossbar of the gibbet he was made to keep wearing this smaller cross, the discipline board, with his titles on it in the three languages above and beside his head, to identify him clearly. The whole structure thus had two crossbars, a smaller and a greater one, in the shape of the double-barred cross preserved in some forms of Christian tradition.
The board was used for a rite of cursing preceding crucifixion. The pesher meaning of the word "crucify", stauroo, is "curse", not "hang on the gibbet". The T shaped board was pointed at the cursed man to signify that he was no longer a minister in good standing in the mission. It was followed by a defrocking. For a man condemned to crucifixion, the rite of expulsion was automatic, but the cursing could take place on other occasions also.
At 9:30 am Jesus was cursed and defrocked, and at 9:35 am hoisted on to the western gibbet.
Each gibbet consisted of a tree trunk 12 cubits high, its lowest 3 cubits buried in the ground. High on the post was a deep groove across the 1 cubit width of the trunk, to hold a crossbar 4 cubits wide. The crossbar was detachable, lying first on the ground while the man was fastened to it. His arms were stretched out along the bar, his hands nailed to its outer edges. When he was ready the crossbar was hoisted up into the groove. Long ropes had been attached to it, running over the top and pulled from the back to raise him up, then fastened behind to the post.
Since the purpose was to leave the man there for days, even weeks - as Josephus records (Josephus, The Life, 420) - suffering humiliation, acute discomfort and gradual loss of circulation causing heart failure, it appears that enough was done to keep him barely alive. His arms, nailed by the hands to the crossbar, could not be brought down. His whole weight would not have hung from the hands, or they would have torn, causing blood loss sooner than intended. He would have been tied to the post with a rope around the chest. A narrow shelf under the buttocks would give momentary support but not seating. His legs were tied together with a chain and left to dangle without support, the feet not nailed. When the time came to break the legs of Simon and Judas, the chain was pulled so tightly that the ankle-bones snapped.
The plan of rescue developed
At noon Agrippa's monastics went into the vestry for their sacred noon meal. There they made the correction of the Three Hours' Darkness, leaving the cover over that would normally be removed at noon. Annas remained at the crucifixion scene supervising the guards. Luke shows that with their enemies out of the way, and Annas in partial sympathy with Jesus, the plot for rescue was discussed by the men on the gibbets and Theudas nearby.
Theudas said to Annas, "Today you will be with me in Paradise". It was coded language, referring to the parts of the cave in which it was intended to place Jesus. Of two caves down from the southern end of the esplanade, one was used as a sabbath latrine on Friday afternoons. The rule about walking a distance on the sabbath prevented monastics from going to their usual place an hour's walk away. It had a lower floor used for the purpose called "Hades", and an upper floor where men washed, called by contrast "Paradise". It was planned that Jesus should be given a cup of poison, to make it appear that he had committed suicide. It would be a slow acting poison, and while he was in the cave, apparently dead - as Pilate would be told- he would be given an antidote that would expel the poison. It would be Annas' part, as the priest to Therapeuts in charge of their healing medicines, to supply the necessary quantities of the antidote. He would meet with Theudas the Chief Therapeut to give him the medicines in "Paradise"
The gospels bring the narrative up to the true noon on Friday, which was the fast 3 pm. From that point the pesher concerns the "Resurrection". Its Word-for-Word is given in Section 7.
The pesher of John 21:20-25 gives the fact that John Mark acted as a scribe of John's gospel, and Jesus ("we" in narrative) authorised what was written. That is, Jesus composed it, because his damaged hands prevented him from writing. John's name was given to it because Jesus was officially dead. John's assistant was his subordinate Philip, later called Philip the Evangelist. It became the custom for the name of a prominent associate to be used as sponsor of the content supplied by another. Matthew Annas was named as the sponsor of Matthew's gospel, of which the scribe was James Niceta, as he himself shows in Revelation 10. The content of Mark's gospel was supplied by Peter, as the church historian Papias recorded. For Luke's gospel, Jesus was again closely involved, as Luke had replaced John Mark after the schism of AD 43-44. Acts was produced by Luke in close association with Jesus. All these books, as well as Revelation, require the technique that Jesus developed while he was recovering from the crucifixion, when he composed brilliantly constructed double-layered works that met the needs of both simple believers and of highly educated leaders.
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