Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jesus the Letdown: Revisiting Matthew, Chapter 27

Part 16 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.
  • Verse 5: Matthew reports that Judas hanged himself. You've heard it enough already: Luke claims that Judas "fell headlong" in a field and his intestines burst out of his body. I'll try to make a point that you haven't heard: one of the big apologist arguments concerning the conflicting accounts of Judas' death is that the original manuscripts were mistranslated when rendered in English. Fair enough, look at the original manuscripts, or at least the best copies that we can find. But then take a look at the very first verse of the entire bible: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." But that's the English translation. Look at the Hebrew and you'll see that "Elohim" created the heavens and the earth. "Elohim" is plural. A correct translation would say, "...the Gods created the heavens and the earth." It seems inconsistent to dig into the original language in one part of the bible but to ignore that in another part.
  • Verses 6 - 7: After Judas throws the blood money into the temple, then goes to hang himself, the chief priests pick up the coins and use them to buy a field as a burial place for foreigners. But Luke says that Judas himself bought the field with the blood money. I've read a few lame apologies for this discrepancy, along the lines that the chief priests bought the field in Judas' name because they didn't want to be ritually defiled by buying it in their own names. But if this were the case, why wouldn't Luke say so? Why does he explicitly say that "Judas bought a field" with the blood money?
  • Verse 26: Pilate has Jesus flogged, then hands him over to be crucified. Mel Gibson recently made a movie that seems to focus on this atrocity to the level of being pornographic. What people forget is that Jesus, if he even existed, was just another schmoe being crucified by the Romans. This sort of thing, brutal flogging followed by crucifixion, was commonplace. Jesus has no special claim to have suffered more than anyone else, unless you buy the nonsense about him carrying the sin of the world during his final hours. As it turns out, according to Matthew, Jesus never said a word about carrying any heavy burden of sin. He did say, in Chapter 26, Verse 28, that his blood is "poured out...for the forgiveness of sins." Where do we get the idea that Jesus suffered some spiritual affliction beyond what other victims of Roman execution suffered? Certainly not from Matthew.
  • Verse 34: Someone offers Jesus some wine mixed with gall. Jesus, the purported Supreme, Omniscient Being of the universe, has to taste it before he realizes that he has broken his promise from Chapter 26, Verse 29, that he will not drink any wine again until he drinks it in heaven with his followers. Whoops! He knew that it was wine, didn't he? Why then did he taste it? Christians might wish to claim that he tasted it as opposed to drinking it, thereby technically keeping his promise. But Jesus and Yahweh put way too much emphasis on thought crime to be excused here. Jesus tasted the proffered drink because in his heart he wanted to drink it, and because he knew ahead of time that it was wine, he was breaking his promise in his heart. I won't give any breaks to a hypocritical god, especially one so overbearing as Yahweh-Jesus.
  • Verse 44: "...the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him." Yeah, the fact that this doesn't jive with the other Gospels has been beaten to death already. No comment.
  • Verse 48: Whoops, looks like Jesus drinks some of the "fruit of the vine" again. Some may say that Matthew claims only that it was offered to Jesus, not that Jesus drank it. But if Jesus didn't drink it, then why wouldn't Matthew say, as he did in Verse 34, that Jesus refused it? This is some seriously shaky ground here.
  • Verses 52 - 53: "...many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs...went into the holy city and appeared to many people." Uhh. Wow. "Many holy people"? So, probably more than two or three, one would guess. How many? Maybe 10? 20? Yet we have absolutely no historical record of this amazing event, other than two verses in the bible. Why would the resurrection of "many holy people" not be documented somewhere? Why wouldn't people hang on their every word and write down everything they said? Why wouldn't there be some reports of these same "many holy people" eventually dying the second time? And while we're talking about people who have died twice, it might be good to mention that Paul, in direct contradiction to Matthew, says that " is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Again, you have to ask yourself whether you're a Jesusian or a Pauline. Or maybe, to be more specific, whether you're a Matthewist or a Pauline.
This concludes my analysis of the Gospel according to Matthew. There is one more chapter, Chapter 28, but I have already covered that in another article, in which I compare the four resurrection stories.

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