Your Print’s Too Small
I’m 76 and have just renewed my subscription to BR. But it was a tough decision. I do like the magazine. It’s an A-1 production, a real class act, but I find myself unwilling to struggle with the print size—a problem your younger readers probably don’t have.
Balancing all the considerations regarding print size is difficult for us, too.—Ed.
A Collection of Old Writings?
In your April issue I see a lot of things that greatly disturb me, like the virgin birth of Jesus and His resurrection being questioned in an advertisement!
I subscribed to BR hoping that it would strengthen my faith through a better understanding of the Scriptures. It is very clear that you do not consider the Bible the inspired word of God.
In college I was a science major, which led me to appreciate the order and precision with which our universe was designed. For a creator of such power and intelligence, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus would be simple.
The Scriptures state that through Jesus Christ the world was made. It just stands to reason that He would have a plan of salvation for those who choose to love and serve Him.
Throw out the virgin birth and the resurrection, and the Bible becomes nothing but an empty shell, just another collection of old writings.
Please cancel my subscription.
I regard myself as a moderately conservative Bible scholar who has often winked at some of the controversial, irreverent and even laughable things I have found in BR. I find myself agreeing with some of your articles and, more often than not, disagreeing with others. For some reason, the
First, your editorial “Does the Bible Refer to God as Feminine?” (Insight, BR 14:02) was completely illogical in its presentation and so-called research. It is a popular ploy among “scholars” these days to refer to God as “woman/mother,” etc. This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to be politically correct and to cede to the whinings of the feminist left wing. You, as a “Bible scholar,” should be ashamed of yourself!
Second, the letter by Tom DeMarco in Readers Reply, in which he refers to Almighty God as “arbitrary, fearful…cruel and vaguely unhinged,” is nothing more than blasphemy. Mr. DeMarco is entitled to his sacrilegious opinion, but does that mean you have to print it?
Third, your Jots and Tittles section would be more appropriately titled “Jokes and Drivel.” Your blurb about the sexual practices of Protestants, Catholics and Jews has no place in this magazine. I have no desire to read about this filth! Get your minds out of the gutter, gentlemen. If I want to see stories like this, I’ll read a tabloid.
The unkindest cut of all in the
Until you and your staff awake from your spiritual deadness, you are, to borrow a statement from the apostle Paul, of all men, most miserable.
BR Goes Atheist?
I am co-owner of a Christian bookstore and have been selling and reading your magazine for some time now. I must say up front that you have always put out a quality product with sound biblical 006information. However, in the
God As Mother and Breast Feeder
Your column on Numbers 11 caught our attention (“Does the Bible Refer to God as Feminine?” Insight, BR 14:02). The story, as you note, begins with the Israelites’ complaint about food (verses 4–9): They want meat to eat, rather than manna! This complaint creates a crisis of leadership for Moses, who presents his own complaint to God (verses 10–15). Moses’ protest culminates in his request for death in verse 15, which is the verse that you singled out in your article. Moses says to God: “If this is the way you [feminine] are going to treat me, put me to death at once.” The verbs and pronominal suffixes throughout the verse are masculine, but the independent pronoun “you” is clearly marked as feminine by the Masoretes, as you described.
We think that the larger context provides some insight into the reason for this unusual use of the feminine form. The problem of leadership in Numbers 11:10–15 reflects the conflicting expectations that God and the Israelites had of Moses. Food is the central metaphor for addressing the problem. Moses’ complaint juxtaposes God’s (verse 12b) and the Israelites’ (verse 13) views of what was appropriate food for the wilderness journey, each one indicating different leadership models.
Moses first states God’s expectations for leadership (verses 11–12) by raising a rhetorical question meant as a complaint. It is filled with feminine imagery in addressing God: “Did I conceive [
The Israelites’ view of leadership is contrasted to God’s in verse 13. They do not want to mature through the wilderness journey. They want meat now. Moses quotes their demand in his complaint to God, “Give us meat to eat!”
The impossibility of providing the two diets at the same time is the burden of leadership that prompts Moses to request death in Numbers 11:15: “If this is the way you [feminine] are going to treat me, put me to death at once.” His address to God in the feminine continues the imagery of divine birth and breast feeding from verses 11–12.
One suspects that the tenth-century A.D. scribes who pointed the text (added the vowels) also saw the larger dynamics of the story in maintaining the feminine form of the independent personal pronoun.
United Theological Seminary
Another Example of God as Feminine
Another reference to the femininity of God is in Exodus 34:6, where el rachum (compassionate and sympathetic to suffering) is listed as one of the 13 attributes of God. Rachum is a Hebrew word, from the root word meaning “womb.”
Los Angeles, California
Don’t Change Genders in Midchapter
Hershel Shanks suggests that the word “you” in Numbers 11:15 could be a reference to a feminine God, based on its Hebrew spelling.
I disagree—based on the context of Numbers 11, beginning with the first verse: “Now the people complained in the hearing of the Lord and when He heard this His wrath flared up.”
Also see verse 33: “The Lord’s wrath flared up against the people and He struck them with a very great plague.”
Mr. Shanks cannot shift genders in midchapter. And as far as I’m concerned, to suggest that this “enticing insight,” this “little gem” in a “secret satchel,” will “liven” any discussion, causes me to question not only his motives but also his credibility—and to wonder if churches are merely bowing to a strong militant feminist coalition.
Joseph’s Moon-Mother, Rachel, Recalls Early Trauma
Arnold Ages suggests that the trauma suffered by Joseph while still a young child, when he and his father, mother and brothers had to bow down in obeisance to Esau, was an important source of the imagery of his dreams (“Dreamer, Schemer, Slave and Prince: Understanding Joseph’s Dreams,” BR 14:02).
Ages’s intriguing suggestion explains an apparent error in the second dream that has long puzzled commentators. Joseph dreams that the sun and moon and eleven stars are bowing down to him (Genesis 37:9). This bothers Jacob, who asks Joseph whether he really believes that his whole family will prostrate themselves before him (Genesis 37:10).
The rabbis point out that the prophecy implied by the dream is impossible; the moon must represent Joseph’s mother, Rachel, and she was already dead. The rabbis justify this apparent absurdity by saying that every dream contains some “nonsense” (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 55a), but Ages’s article suggests an alternative explanation for the “nonsense.” Applying his idea, it is possible to infer that Joseph alludes to his mother, not because he is prophesying that she will bow to him like his father and brothers, but because he is recalling his trauma when he saw her bow to Esau together with the rest of the family. This humiliation followed the family’s flight from Joseph’s great-uncle Laban after years of subjugation to his leadership.
Joseph’s dream reveals his view that life would be more secure if all the family members acknowledged him as their leader. In this way, he expresses the subconscious urge not to subjugate his family in the same manner as Laban and Esau but to unite them in a benign manner—as indeed he finally did. He even yearns to heal the pain of the past in a dream that is not a flawed prophecy but a poignant document describing events affecting his whole family, including his moon-mother, who waned in her death but continues to wax in his imagination.
Los Angeles, California
Down for the Count
1. The cover photo shows all 12 brothers, including Joseph. The caption to this photo , however, states that “Joseph stands…ringed by 10 of his 11 brothers.” This is incorrect.
2. In the same picture, floating in the bubble (upper left), there are the sun, the moon and 12 stars! Shouldn’t there be only 11 stars representing the 11 brothers? The floating bubble (upper right) correctly shows 11 sheaves of wheat, representing 11 brothers. Did Raphael make a mistake in the number of stars?
3. In the article, the author, quoting Genesis, refers to “the sun, the moon, and eleven stars.” Yet an examination of the illuminated manuscript shows the sun, the moon and 13 stars! What gives? (see “Dreamer, Schemer, Slave and Prince: Understanding Joseph’s Dreams,” BR 14:02)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Bezalel Narkiss, Samuel H. Kress Professor at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., responds:
During the Middle Ages and later, artists did not usually read the text they were illustrating but used other illuminated manuscripts as models and sometimes copied them without understanding the original text. The 13 stars in the Prague Bible may be such a case. Either the artist painted 13 instead of 11 stars by mistake, or the model he used had them. It seems that the Renaissance artist Raphael (
[It is. Our apologies.—Ed.]
Missing All the Pun
The sidebar to the Joseph article (see “Beheaded, Crucified, Impaled or Hanged?” in “Dreamer, Schemer, Slave and Prince: Understanding Joseph’s Dreams,” BR 14:02) twice gives the Hebrew transliteration of Joseph’s words without translating them. I assume that most 008readers of BR, like myself, are not familiar enough with Hebrew to be able to translate this. As a result, much of the meaning is lost, especially when the sidebar’s author emphasizes a play on words in the second quote.
Look at the richness of interpretation that exists in the Hebrew as brought out in the Insight column in the same issue.
One of the best articles I have read in BR involved a similar play on words (Gordon Tucker, “Jacob’s Terrible Burden,” BR 10:03). If I remember rightly, Jacob, concerned over the loss of Rachel, whom he had unknowingly vowed to death (according to the article), was explaining his loss to Joseph with a Hebrew phrase that translates “It happened suddenly” but that has the double meaning (when Jacob addresses it to himself) of “It happened because of me.” Without that interpretation the whole meaning of the article would have been lost.
Our apologies to Mr. Pauly and other readers for our oversight. The first phrase, addressed by Joseph to Pharaoh’s cupbearer, is “B’od shloshet yamim yisah Pharo et roshecha vahasivcha al kanecha” (Genesis 40:13) and means “Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office.” The second phrase, addressed by Joseph to Pharaoh’s baker, is “B’od shloshet yamim yisah Pharo et roshcha me’alecha” (40:19) and means “within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you!” In each case, Joseph uses the phrase “yisah Pharo,” “Pharaoh will lift up,” but the first time it means “promote, elevate,” the second time it means “execute.”—Ed.
According to Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “A consistent series of structural doublets permits only one conclusion: Mark’s gospel combines two stories” (“What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” BR 14:02). Other scholars, however, have noted these doublets and not drawn this conclusion. The implication of Murphy-O’Connor’s statement is that the others were not scholars, or at least not scholarly enough. How presumptuous! Unfortunately, this is not the only flaw in the article. Speculation suddenly becomes fact and is used to prove another point. Presuppositions are not acknowledged or are poorly defended.
This article is one of the weakest to appear in BR for quite some time. Instead of making the two-stories hypothesis believable, Murphy-O’Connor has reinforced my skepticism towards this approach.
The Q Apparition
How refreshing to find a scholar like Jerome Murphy-O’Connor honestly admitting that Q is a hypothetical source. Most scholars (that I have seen, at least) use language that gives the reader the impression that they are dealing with an actual document.
As I understand the process, the first step in developing Q is to excise whatever of Mark exists in Matthew and Luke. This, in effect, wholly separates Mark from Q. On what basis do scholars claim that Mark has absolutely no relationship to Q? Murphy-O’Connor’s article demonstrates that the author of Mark incorporated existing stories into his text (see “What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” BR 14:02). How has it been established that all of Mark’s sources are completely independent of Q?
I do not see how it can be done, lacking copies of any of those prior documents, which may or may not have been written down. This leads me to the conclusion that Q, as presently constituted, is no more than a partial, imaginary document.
Freehold, New Jersey
The Club I’m Beaten With
Thank you for the helpful article by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (see “What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” BR 14:02). For months, I have seen how believers writing to defend the Bible are browbeaten by writers who appeal to the authority of “scholarship.” This article helped me to understand the club with which I am being beaten.
“Scholarship” seems to be the process of interpreting evidence in the way most likely to produce contradictions within the text or between the text and archaeological evidence. These supposed problems are then explained by staggering leaps of wild speculation and references to nonexistent texts.
In the words of Murphy-O’Connor, “This might seem a very fragile basis on which to construct the life of Jesus…” In between blows, I mutter, “Amen.”
Stop Publishing Unsubstantiated Christian Teaching
I feel saddened and disappointed to find in BR, more and more often it seems, columnists and other contributors writing from unsubstantiated traditional assumptions about what the Bible is rather than examining these assumptions. Many conservative Christians, especially, seem to mean by “scholarship” writing that clearly expounds the tradition and argues for its truth. I thought BR would examine claims to truth. Certainly that is what I and most scholars understand to be the essence of scholarship.
Yet Elie Wiesel refers to midrash sometimes as if the reflections therein were actually explaining the meaning of biblical episodes rather than simply offering later interpretations, suggestions, amplifications or embellishments. He never stops to defend that presumption. (see “Supporting Roles: Esau,” BR 14:02)
Anthony J. Saldarini writes as though the Wisdom of Solomon or other biblical books, merely by attributing all human wisdom to God, show that, as his title claims, “Human Wisdom Is Divine,” BR 14:02. A claim is not proof. He is tacitly presuming that if a biblical book says so, it must be so. That is no scholarly argument. That is religious belief and ideology. Nothing he wrote in his essay supported the thesis expressed in his title.
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor postures as though he is going to answer for his readers the question “What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” Yet his basic procedure is to argue that Mark, being the earliest or the most authentic-sounding gospel, must therefore have the goods on the truth of what happened. But just because it is the earliest or the most authentic or the most reasonable or the least tainted by apparently later insertions doesn’t mean it is true.
Worse yet, Murphy-O’Connor writes— or rather, BR allows Murphy-O’Connor to publish in its pages—the sloppy, unscholarly view that Jesus realized “that his death would be the saving event in God’s plan for humanity” (Murphy-O’Connor’s emphasis). “After all,” Murphy-O’Connor states as though it were historical fact, “Jesus had previously foreseen and predicted his death…” Give us a break! In the midst of all the scholarly literature, doubts, debates and questions about what is historical and what we can really know about what and who Jesus really was and what he said and did and knew and predicted and what, on the other hand, seem to be expressions, inserted decades later, of belief about Jesus’ nature and purpose, BR has Murphy-O’Connor waxing knowledgeable and supersessionist about Jesus having a very Christian (actually, pagan), not Jewish, view about “his death [being] the saving event in God’s plan for humanity” and later “what [Jesus] knew to be the inexorable plan of his Father for the salvation of humanity.” Between these two statements, he publishes another unsubstantiated Christian teaching: “[Jesus] was like them [the disciples and, presumably, all of us] in all things except sin…”
Please, BR, let me, let us, know what you intend to be. I thought this was to be a publication where laypeople would be exposed to biblical scholarship and have a bit of a forum about it. Please restrict “Christian” assumptions, or any other religious presumptions, about the divine nature of the Bible and God’s plan and Jesus’ true nature to the letters column and disallow them from your columnists and other contributors. And please keep the level of writing and scholarship up by demanding, at the very least, that contributors make a reasonable attempt to support their points by doing something more than wax midrashic or ride 010traditional religious beliefs about the nature, truth and meaning of the Bible, Jesus and Christianity.
As a new subscriber, I was delighted with Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s April article (see “What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” BR 14:02). Is this part of your magazine’s humor section? If so, good show—it made great April Fool’s Day reading! I don’t see how any rational, truly educated reader could take seriously Murphy-O’Connor’s premises, methodology or conclusions. It is always amusing to observe how a work redolent with puerile oversimplification, question-begging fallacy and gratuitous conjecture can still be passed off as biblical scholarship.
Take, for example, the fundamental hypothesis of his argument: “Such a consistent series of structural doublets permits only one conclusion: Mark’s gospel combines two stories”. Is source-criticism still so mired in those obsolete theories that (arbitrarily, obsessively) inferred source-multiplicity from doublets and other such literary idiosyncrasies makes scholars fail to recognize ancient literature’s perennial testimony, that such narrative features most often indicate a sophisticated literary device employed by a single author in one original, integral source?
The article was delightful, though. It is refreshing to read this folderol in a fun, beautifully illustrated periodical rather than in the bland, hefty, expensive tomes in which I ordinarily encounter such faux scholarship. Keep up the good work!
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor questions, “If the disciples were asleep, how did they know what was happening to Jesus?” indicating that the question posed by the title cannot be answered. He seems aware of this when in the next paragraph he writes: “The only possibility is that certain disciples projected onto Jesus the emotions that they imagined they would experience if they suddenly realized their death was imminent,” a statement with which I am in full agreement.
In Liberating the Gospels, Bishop John Shelby Spong writes of the Jewish midrashic storyteller style with which all of the evangelists would have been familiar from their Jewish roots. Spong suggests that this was a style and practice used by the evangelists in all of the Gospels. This is what I understand as the tradition of the Church.
If this is true, what is the purpose of the article? Is it not a Christian midrash on a Christian midrash? In other words, why struggle so painfully and laboriously with what might have happened? Why not just accept the tradition?
Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande
Santa Teresa, New Mexico
Luther and the Law
I was shocked at Ronald Hendel’s shallow characterization of Martin Luther’s theology in his column, “The Law in the Gospel,” BR 14:02. Hendel appears to have a superficial acquaintance with Luther’s distinction between Law and Gospel. Specifically, Luther did not see Law itself as “an unnecessary burden and an obstacle to salvation,” as Hendel states. Nor did Luther denigrate the Law. Indeed, Luther saw God’s Law as a burden—but only because of sin, especially original sin (the human inclination to rebel against God). However, Luther taught that the Law is necessary—not only to drive sinners to the consolation of the Gospel, but also as a means to know what behavior pleases God.
In Luther’s theology both Law and Gospel are necessary and work hand-in-hand. The Law drives people to the Gospel because they are unable to keep it perfectly. The Gospel gives them Christ’s perfection. Then, as grateful children of God, they strive to keep the Law through faith in Christ. Hendel has simply missed the point. A better reading of Luther (or perhaps a more sensitive one) would have made this clear.
Luther might reply: The Law is not in the Gospel, Ron, and the Gospel is not in the Law—but both are holy, and both are necessary.
Staff Pastor, Lutheran Home, Westlake, Ohio
Adjunct Professor of Religion, Ashland Univ. Ashland, Ohio
Martin Luther Replies
I found your April column most interesting (see “The Law in the Gospel,” BR 14:02), Ronald. Little did I realize that I, “Martin Luther,” regarded the Law as “an unnecessary burden and an obstacle to salvation.” I believe you also implied that with an assist from me and my views, modern culture denigrates the Law in the biblical writings. You concluded your column by addressing me directly: “The law is in the gospel, Martin, and the gospel is in the law.” Given these assertions about me, I find that I must defend myself, once again, as I did some 460 years ago.
As to the Law, Ronald, you misunderstand my position. If you would like to take a closer look at my writings, you will see that I find the Law to be quite necessary and that I highly regard the Law. Take, for example, what I wrote back in 1529 to pastors and heads of households:
“Here, then, we have the Ten Commandments, a summary of divine teaching on what we are to do to make our whole life pleasing to God. They are the true fountain from which all good works must spring, the true channel through which all good works must flow. Apart from these Ten Commandments, no deed, no conduct, can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great or precious it may be in the eyes of the world” (from my Large Catechism).
In 1537, in preparation for a church council, I wrote of the Law:
“Here we maintain that the law was given by God first of all to restrain sins by threat and fear of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and favor. But this purpose failed because of the wickedness which sin has worked in man. Some, who hate the law because it forbids what they desire to do and commands what they are unwilling to do, are made worse thereby. Accordingly, in so far as they are not restrained by punishment, they act against the law even whenever they have opportunity. Others become blind and presumptuous, imagining that they can and do keep the law by their own powers, as was just said above concerning the scholastic theologians. Hypocrites and false saints are produced in this way.
“However, the chief function or power of the law is to make original sin manifest and show man to what utter depths his nature has fallen and how corrupt it has become. So the law must tell him that he neither has not cares for God or that he worships strange gods—011something that he would not have believed before without a knowledge of the law. Thus, he is terror-stricken and humbled, becomes despondent and despairing, anxiously desires help but does not know where to find it, and begins to be alienated from God, to murmur, etc. This is what is meant by Romans 4:15, ‘The law brings wrath,’ and Romans 5:20, ‘Law came in to increase the trespass’” (from my writings, later referred to as the Smalcald Articles).
Now, Ronald, perhaps you do not agree with my interpretation of the Law; however, please do not use me in your articles again until you know where I stand.
(a.k.a. Pastor David W. Schweppe)
Ronald S. Hendel responds:
I’m sorry you took umbrage at my attempt to explicate—all too briefly—your distinction between law and gospel in Scripture. I wrote: “[Luther] regarded as gospel the parts of the Bible that were directly conducive to salvation. The rest he regarded as law, as an unnecessary burden and an obstacle to salvation.” You object to my admittedly terse characterization, because you say you esteem the law highly and find it to be quite necessary.
However, as I’m sure you would admit, there is a strong strain in your writings that goes in a quite different direction. For example, in your introduction to your translation of the New Testament, you emphatically contrast gospel and law in Scripture:
“On every count, it is evident that the gospel does not form a book of laws, but a proclamation of the good things which Christ has offered us for our own, if only we believe. On the other hand, Moses, in his books, urges, drives, threatens, lashes out, and severely punishes; for he is a maker and administrator of law. That, moreover, is why laws are not prescribed for believers. It is as St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, Understand this, that a man is given righteousness, life, and salvation by faith; and nought is required of him to give proof of this faith” (emphasis added).
And in your influential Treatise on Christian Liberty, you similarly remark: “For what is impossible for you in all the works of the law, many as they are, but all useless, you will accomplish in a short and easy way through faith” (emphasis added).
Now we would all agree that your writings are powerful and diverse, and a systematic consistency is not their chief virtue. So, too, with your views on the law. My sense is that you tend to agree with Paul on this point (as I noted in my column), that only faith is essential to salvation.
But I would be glad to talk further with you about these issues, perhaps over dinner, for you are famous for your table talk.
Giving Esau His Due
Elie Wiesel’s article on Esau (Supporting Roles, BR 14:02) expresses the sympathy we have all felt for Jacob’s brother. However, as Mr. Wiesel concludes, “We are the descendants and heirs of Jacob. And not of Esau.” There are good reasons this is so. First, as Mr. Wiesel points out, it is Rebecca who helped Jacob outwit his brother and father in the contest for the blessing of Isaac, but she was merely acting to further the divine will as revealed to her when she was pregnant with the brothers: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Genesis tells us that “Esau is Edom” (Genesis 36:8)—a people who were in Canaan first but who were, nevertheless, conquered and ruled by the Israelites—so this narrative is to be read on two levels.
Second, we can be forgiven for not taking Esau seriously when he claims to be “famished” (Genesis 25:30); the text tells us that “Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34) when he traded stew for it. Who would want Esau as the covenant bearer? He is an unworthy descendant of Abraham and Isaac (among other things, he marries two pagan women, to the consternation of his parents). He gains our admiration, however, years later, when he forgives his brother (Genesis 33:4).
We are thus left with Jacob the trickster as our hero. In ancient tales the hero is often cunning and deceitful (e.g., Odysseus); he is a survivor, a winner, and stories of his victories were heard with admiration and with delight in his success. To give Jacob his due, he is capable of responding to God, for example, in his famous dream of the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28:12) and in his determination to be blessed by the strange figure with whom he wrestles (Genesis 32:24–29). The latter incident I take to reflect an ancient conception of deity unlike anything else we find in the Bible.
Later, as Israel’s ethical system was refined, Jacob’s actions in dealing with his brother were seen as at least questionable by redactors who revised the text to include their reservations. It is the tension between these two attitudes that we still respond to in reading this ancient story.
Did Judas Obey Jesus?
BR is always exciting. Sometimes you run articles that bore me or irritate me, but every issue contains informative and/or thought-provoking items. I especially enjoy the discussions in your letters column when a reader takes exception to something in an article and presents a cogent argument, and the author responds intelligently. While the
B.R. McCarthy’s assertion (Readers Reply, BR 14:02) that the biblical story of Judas’ “betrayal” of Jesus (as we are generally given to understand it) doesn’t wash, combined with Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s article, “What Really Happened at Gethsemane?” BR 14:02, leads to some interesting speculation.
Suppose one looks solely at the actions, rather than the words used to portray them, in the Book of Mark. As McCarthy points out, it would appear that neither the Jewish nor the Roman authorities were actively searching for Jesus at that time. It does, then, look as if Jesus planned to be taken and crucified.
As others have noted, Jesus assigned one of the disciples to arrange the arrest. The one he chose was Judas. We can only wonder what Judas told the authorities to motivate them to act then and there.
After arriving at Gethsemane, the designated place, Jesus waited to be arrested, either by prearrangement or because it was His fate. This would explain the “enigmatic and seemingly meaningless statement without context: ‘the money is paid,’” which Murphy-O’Connor refers to. What has gone before provides context. Whether Judas was carrying out Jesus’ orders or just fulfilling the prediction that he would betray Jesus, time enough had passed for him to do it and collect the reward. At this point, there was no turning back. The reward had been claimed, and the soldiers were surely on the way.
If Judas was loyal follower adn not a traitor to Jesus, perhaps he expected the apocalypse to occur immediately, as so many early Christians seem to have believed. If so, how would he have reacted when it didn’t happen? The despair that came with a loss of faith, or perhaps a desire to quickly join his Master, might explain his suicide.
Port Charlotte, Florida
Your Print’s Too Small