The Crucifixion, Death and Burial of Jesus.
1. The procession to Calvary
Mark 15, 21, 22
Jesus is led out of the city to Golgotha (i.e. as Mark translates the name of this place, the place of the skull) and a man who has just come from the field is forced to carry the cross. Mark calls him Simon of Cyrene *), and it was from him that the others first learned the name of this man and the place of execution. But nowhere do we complain about the name Golgotha, which Josephus should have mentioned more often; but he didn’t know him yet, because it was only Mark who formed him. And Simon of Cyrene? Before you dare to blame us for our unbelief in this name and its Lord, first answer us, why was he requisitioned, a man who had just come from the field? Did not people go with the procession? Does such a procession happen without escorts? Who was first curious enough to inquire about that man’s name? As if a name were that difficult to form! As if Mark hadn’t created a Jairus before! As if that feature shouldn’t serve purely and simply to indicate that Golgotha lies outside the city, because strangers can only meet a person who comes from the field as such if one is close to the gate, either still within the city or already outside of it. Mark doesn’t even say that or if Jesus had carried the cross until then, or if he had given signs of exhaustion. It is determined by one interest only, namely, to impress the reader with the most definite idea that Jesus suffered outside the city; for Jesus is the sin offering of the Day of Atonement, whose body was burned outside the camp. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews already found this evangelical view and explains it correctly when he says: Jesus also suffered outside the gate so that he could sanctify the people with his own blood. C. 13, 11-13. Luke and Matthew took Simon’s note from their account, but the fourth erased it, he says: Jesus carried his cross, because he wants to make the matter more sensitive by saying that Jesus himself “went out to the place of the skull carrying the cross. ” C. 19, 17.
*) The further determination: “the father of Alexander and Rufus” is an overabundance that is alien to Mark. It is an addition that a very late reader added. The two names were taken arbitrarily from the letters of the NT.
Luke has formed an episode here: Not only does he say here that the two criminals who were crucified with him were led out together with Jesus, but he also tells us that a large crowd of people joined the procession and that the women who also went, mourning and weeping for Jesus. Jesus answers them that they should not weep for him, but for themselves and their children, for there will come a time when people will say what Luke reads in the scripture of Mark (Mark 13:17), that those who are pregnant and nursing should be pitied, when they will say what the miserable say in the scripture of Hosea: Mountains fall upon us (Hos. 10, 8); because, Jesus concludes his discourse (C. 23, 27-32), if that happens to the green tree, what will happen to the dry tree? — whether that means: if this happens to pregnant women, how should it go for hard sinners — or not is unclear, is also extremely irrelevant; – only so much is clear that the evangelist takes a saying of Ezekiel (C. 20, 47. 21, 3), namely the saying that the judgment should fall on the dry and green wood, the unjust and the just, in a very unclear way not processed here, but only attached.
2. The bitter potion.
Mark 15, 23. 36.
Twice Mark has a bitter and astringent drink given to the Lord, the first time immediately after the arrival at Calvary adding myrrh to the wine, and afterwards, when Jesus uttered his last lamentation, vinegar, with which one of those close to him had soaked a sponge.
When Jesus rejects the wine the first time, we should not, indeed, look for everything that people usually thought and dared to invent. It was believed that, before being executed, criminals were allowed the favor of throwing off the burden of consciousness by drinking heavily spiced wine. Myrrh does not intoxicate! Now, however, when Jesus is still free to dispose of himself, he rejects what someone else will later give him when he can no longer resist; namely, that drink which Matthew has somewhat clumsily revealed, when he wrote for the first time that Jesus was given vinegar mixed with gall. This is the drink over which the Righteous One of the Old Testament already complains, that when he was thirsty, they gave him vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21). Matthew added gall to the vinegar, of which the Righteous One says that they put it in his food. Mark mixed the drink in such a way that the historical probability was not too greatly violated, and the situation was not too greatly mocked.
Luke knows of one drink, the second one that was given to Jesus when he was already hanging on the cross (Luke 23:36). He says that the soldiers gave him vinegar out of mockery, but he does not say how they came up with such mockery. His episodes did not leave him room for the first drink and for the proper introduction of the second one. He had just reported the speech of Jesus to the women of Jerusalem, and now, as soon as he reports that Jesus was nailed to the cross, he wants to remark that Jesus, as Isa. 53:12 is prophesied, prayed for sinners. Father, says Jesus (C. 23, 34), forgive them, for they know not what they are doing; just as Luke has Stephen pray before his departure (Apostles 7:60): Lord, do not hold this sin against them!
Because of his episodes (the negotiations of the Jews with Pilate about the title on the cross and the arrangement of the lottery of Jesus’ clothes), the fourth did not have any time left for the first drink either: but he gives the second all the importance that it is due. Jesus not only calls so that the scripture (Ps. 69, 22. Ps. 22, 16) would be fulfilled: I am thirsty, but he also takes the vinegar to be able to have it immediately: It is finished. The thirst of Jesus, the giving of the vinegar and the consumption of it have now put the final seal on the fulfillment of Scripture.
3. The lottery of Jesus’ clothes.
Mark 15, 24
Immediately after the crucifixion—immediately thereafter, so that the scene is at the foot of the cross—the soldiers divided Jesus’ garments among themselves in such a manner that they cast lots over them to determine “who shall receive.”
Luke omits the last specification given and merely says that they cast lots when they divided the clothes (C. 23, 34). Matthew reports the matter just as briefly, but he also tells us why Mark wrote this feature, because it was important and necessary for the Scriptures that prophesied of this distribution of clothing to be fulfilled (C. 27, 35. Ps 22, 19). Finally, the fourth, since in the psalm the same thing is signified by two parallel expressions, takes this signification seriously and, as Strauss was the first to remark, forms his new story from it. For it is written in the Psalm: “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:18) The fourth gospel then tells us that the soldiers, who had suddenly become four in number, divided Jesus’ clothes into four parts and “cast lots” for his tunic, which was woven in one piece and they did not want to tear apart – as if they had torn apart the other clothes, which not even the fourth gospel dared to say! – so that, as the fourth gospel adds, the scripture would be fulfilled (John 19:23-24), as Matthew had already taught us.
4. Jesus on the cross.
Mark 15, 26-36.
Mark only knows how to tell of the mockery that Jesus suffered on the cross.
Even the attached plaque with the inscription: the king of the Jews! is a mockery, the continuation of those that Pilate had already allowed himself before.
Two robbers are crucified on either side of him in order to equate him with the rejected.
The passers-by mock him, nod their heads scornfully and say: aha! who wanted to tear down the temple and expand it in three days! rather save yourself and get off the cross!
Even the high priests stoop to this mockery and add to it from the miracle side in general, saying, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe.”
Even those crucified with him mock him.
At the sixth hour, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. Then, at the ninth hour, Jesus spoke with the words of the psalm (Psalm 22:2): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The exclamation “Eloi, Eloi” gave rise to some thinking about the connection between the Messiah and Elijah, which led to mockery: “He is calling Elijah!” and even the one who gave him the sponge with vinegar said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down from the cross!”
Matthew also tells the story essentially and in almost the same words in chapter 27, verses 37-49. The small change that he has the entire body of the high priests, along with the scribes and the elders, station themselves at the cross to mock Jesus instead of just the high priests alone, is not noteworthy.
However, Luke had to make changes because he had left out the testimony of the witnesses about what Jesus said in the temple earlier, and had reserved it for the story of Stephen. He could not have the people in general utter the mocking words, and then have the high priests say something different. He had to simplify or, if he could not do so intelligently, confuse the story. He did both! (Luke 23:35-45) First, he simplified: “The people stood there watching, and the leaders even scoffed at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.'” But now, because Luke did not want to ignore it and, in his slavish dependence on Mark, could not ignore it, he includes the soldiers’ mockery of giving him vinegar – not, of course, mocking the exclamation “Eloi, Eloi!”, but a variation on the same mockery of the leaders, which Mark reports and which Luke had just mentioned himself: “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” Only after these words – too late and in the wrong place – did it seem appropriate to Luke to mention the inscription on that sign that was attached to the cross.
A new mockery follows! Only one of the two criminals actually mocked Jesus – but how? – with the words that Luke reads as the mockery of the high priests in Mark’s account: “If you are the Messiah, save yourself – of course! – and us!” With this episode, Luke’s account is directed. The other criminal rebukes his companion, asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingly power, and Jesus responds: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
The note about the solar eclipse that follows is very misleading in Luke’s account, because he had to omit what gives it context in Mark’s account. He does not indicate the duration of the three hours, because he had already reported the incident of someone waving at Jesus out of mockery, which gives rise to the new taunt prompted by Jesus’ cry of “Eloi!” Now he cannot report the taunt again. In his anxiety to fill the gap, but only the spatial gap, he says that darkness covered the land from the sixth to the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn”, as if the darkness of the sun followed the darkness and as if the tearing of the temple veil did not occur until after Jesus’ death. Luke has everything out of order because he introduced the note about the person who gave Jesus vinegar too early and then wanted to report some new information (v. 48, 49) later.
The original account was as follows: Mark himself says why the two criminals were necessarily placed beside Jesus, so that the scripture would be fulfilled, which says: “He was numbered with the transgressors,” Isa. 53:12. The taunting in general was necessary because the Righteous One of the Old Testament laments: “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” Ps. 22:7-8. Finally, Matthew cites verse 9 from this psalm to emphasize how the people must taunt the Messiah: “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him if he wants him.”
The fourth gospel only tells of one of these mockeries, namely that two criminals were crucified on either side of Jesus, and the other, that Pilate attached a plaque to the cross with the inscription – in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as Luke later learned from Mark and from him the fourth gospel learned – “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”. As already noted above, his episodes took up too much space and time for the evangelist. He now adds a new episode immediately after the casting of lots for the seamless garment, one that makes the mockery mentioned earlier pale in comparison. Notably, the space it takes up must come at the expense of other details reported by Mark. The evangelist has incorporated the notice of the women who “from afar” – as is the only way that makes sense and is reasonable – watched and afterwards observed where Joseph placed the body. The women, together with the beloved disciple, are suddenly standing at the foot of the cross, so that Jesus can entrust his mother to the disciple’s care (John 19:25-27). Since we have already valued the notice of these women in their worth above, the criticism of this episode in the fourth gospel is also given, and it is therefore not worth the effort to mention that the fourth gospel lists other women than Mark, namely three Marys: the mother of Jesus, her sister, and Mary Magdalene.
5. The hours of the day of death.
The way in which Mark calculates the hours of the day of Jesus’ death is beyond doubt due to the context. When he says in Chapter 15, verse 25, that it was the third hour when Jesus was crucified, and the sixth when the darkness came, which lasted until the ninth hour, at the end of which Jesus died, it is clear that our third hour of the morning is his ninth, his ninth is our third hour of the afternoon, because the sixth hour is noon: the darkness – that is the contrast that Mark worked towards – came when the sun reached its culmination point.
For the remark of when Jesus was crucified, Luke has no space – due to the episode of Jesus praying for his enemies in Chapter 23, verse 34 – and no time, because he struggles with the transition to the mocking of Jesus by the people and the rulers. Afterwards, he reports the time and duration of the darkness; and Matthew reports only the latter, for the remark of when Jesus was crucified, he had no space, since he quoted the scripture that was fulfilled when they divided up Jesus’ clothes.
Luke has no space to comment on when Jesus was crucified because of the episode of Jesus praying for his enemies, c which Obem must torment very much. But afterwards he reports the time and duration of the darkness; the latter is also reported by Matthew alone, for he had no room to note the time at which Jesus was crucified, since he was citing Scripture, which was fulfilled when the robes of Jesus were given away.
Due to his episodes, the fourth Gospel does not even have enough space left to mention the darkness. Without much thought, he uses a number that caught his eye in the writings of his predecessors, for his purposes: at the sixth hour *), it was, he says in chapter 19, verse 14, when Pilate finally gave in to the stormy demands of the Jews and handed Jesus over for crucifixion.
*) Above (in the criticism of the ev. Gesch. d. Joh. p. 45) we probably made a mistake when we accepted the fourth and the connection in honor that the tenth hour is our tenth in the morning. Since the fourth is capable of everything, it is more likely that he calculates C. 1.40 in the same Hebrew way that he also follows C. 4, 6 for in the last place the sixth hour can only be that of noon. The sixth hour of the Suffering Day is nothing at all, it was only thoughtlessly noted down by him.
6. The death of Jesus.
Mark 15, 37-39.
The last words Mark put in his master’s mouth—my God! my God! why did you leave me? he wrote, without getting involved in any way with the possible consequences, only to show that Jesus had really proved himself to be the Messiah right up to the moment of his last sufferings, and the Holy Spirit already had a picture of his pain revealed long before to the psalmist.
With a loud cry, Jesus soon dies. The temple curtain must tear apart to make it clear that the world now has free access to God, and the captain of the Roman guard, who was standing in front of Jesus, must be prompted by the cry (!) with which Jesus died to exclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” This is not so that one might later ponder in what sense he spoke of a Son of God, but rather so that the last moment of Jesus may be glorified through the testimony of a non-Jewish person. Now that the Jews seem to have won, a harbinger of the faithful Gentile world must come forward to announce the victory of the crucified one in advance.
How Luke has disrupted the development of this scene is shown. When the temple curtain was torn apart, Jesus – similar to Stephen in Acts 7:59 – said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke had to provide an exclamation for Jesus, as he could not use the other one: “Eloi! Eloi!” Additionally, the centurion said, “Truly, this man was righteous.” Luke had to soften the statement of the Gentile, as there was no need for any special testimony after Jesus had just previously told the repentant criminal, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Finally, since Luke had already mentioned the women (in chapter 8, verses 2-3), he had to include the note from Mark about them here, too. He also leaves space (!) for male acquaintances who watched from a distance and for the other note – the counterpart to the above note about the weeping women of Jerusalem – that all the assembled crowds (!) beat their breasts. Now, he believes, it was time for the prophecy of Zechariah (12:10) to be fulfilled. (Luke 23:46-49.)
Matthew follows Mark, but between the note of the renting of the veil and the size of the centurion, inserts the remark that an earthquake happened, the rocks rent, the tombs opened, many of the buried saints—an Abraham, Moses, David, etc. — rose again, emerged from the grave, after their *) resurrection went into the holy (!) city and showed themselves to many (C. 27, 50-54). When it is said that “the chief and the guards who were with him” (which Matthew very inappropriately has them spying and speaking with their leader) saw the earthquake, the point is that they also saw the resurrection of the saints and their departure into the holy city. This miracle was what finally caused them to exclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” In other words, the episode is ultimately overwhelmed by the context – which is only correct in Mark’s writing.
*) not after the resurrection of Jesus, as later scrupulocity changed to give Jesus back the privilege of being the first of the resurrected. It is to be read αυτων, not αυτου.
The interests already mentioned and the interest that now follows (in verse 31), namely his concern for the purity of the Jews who will be partaking of the Passover lamb that night – all of this has so preoccupied the Fourth Gospel writer that he does not even mention anything about the tearing of the temple curtain.
7. The Real Death and Burial of Jesus.
Mark 15, 42-46.
While Mark reports that an honest councillor, Joseph of Arimathea, plucked up the courage and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, he does not yet think of overwhelming the interest to the point that he would dwell on it for a long time and the benevolence of Joseph motivated and explained. Rather, he is only concerned with proving that the dictum of the Holy Spirit, that after his death the Messiah will find his tomb with the rich after he had been appointed with the criminals, was fulfilled (Isa. 53:9), he only has the other interest of confirming the death of Jesus as having actually taken place, in order to at the same time confirm the subsequent miracle of the resurrection as a miracle. Pilate, namely, when Joseph presents his request, is surprised that Jesus has “already” died, lets the centurion stand guard, and asks him whether Jesus—here the evangelist’s interest is betrayed somewhat too keenly—had died “long ago.” , and when he heard the confirmation from the centurion, he gave the corpse to Joseph. He wraps him in linen and places him in a rock vault, in front of which he then rolls a stone.
Luke does not see the significance of Pilate’s questions to Joseph and the centurion, but rather leaves out everything related to it because he has other interests. He describes Joseph to us more closely: “he was a good and righteous man who had not consented to the counsel and deed of his fellow council members – (or!), Luke writes very carelessly – and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.” This formula, which belongs solely to Luke’s standing language, was only inserted into the Gospel of Mark by a later hand. Additionally, Luke suddenly tells us that Joseph also embalmed the body, but like Mark, he also says that the women from Jesus’ entourage watched where Joseph laid the body, and like Mark, he also says that the women went to the tomb on the morning after the Sabbath to perform the embalming, as if they could think of doing so when they had seen that Joseph had already taken care of it. Finally, Luke tells us the news that no one had yet been laid in the tomb (Luke 23:50-55).
Matthew also did not pay attention to how important it was to establish the true death of Jesus; he omits Pilate’s relevant discussions and instead mentions Joseph, probably to incorporate the cue of that prophecy, as a rich man. He further develops the pragmatism of Luke by stating that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, and finally, only out of negligence and not because he wanted to follow Mark’s account, he leaves out the fact that the women wanted to embalm the body – he only reports that Joseph performed the embalming (Matthew 27:57-61).
With the cumbersome heaviness of someone who has to struggle to immerse himself in the customs of the Jews, the Fourth Gospel writer narrates the burial of Jesus’ body – in an unused tomb – and its embalming; in particular, he says that Nicodemus, who happens to come along as if on cue, brought the necessary materials – a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes. He also knows that Joseph, a disciple of Jesus, had been hiding out of fear of the Jews. What a clever or curious pragmatism! Then Joseph would have had to be most afraid now.
We are now approaching the point where the question of chronology will be answered.
The Fourth Gospel writer is so meticulous that he says the place where Jesus found his tomb was a garden that happened to be nearby, and they brought Jesus’ body there because time was pressing, as it was now the moment when they had to prepare for the Sabbath – not just for the enjoyment of the Passover meal!
He uses the same motive to remove Jesus’ body from the cross. The Jews, he says, asked Pilate to have the bodies removed from the cross so that they would not remain there until the Sabbath, and to break their bones beforehand – but we do not hear of this custom anywhere else. So the soldiers did this to the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they spared him this procedure, and only one of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with a spear. (John 19:31-42)
He himself says why he thought these things were necessary, and he also lets us know how highly he values them when he says, “He who saw it has testified to it, and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth – the all-knowing one knows that he is telling the truth! – so that you may believe”!! All of this happened, he says, to fulfill the scripture that commanded (Exodus 12:46) that no bone of the Passover lamb should be broken, and which said in another place (Zechariah 12:10) of the Messiah that they would see him whom they had “stabbed”.
In short, the Fourth Gospel writer has no intention of confirming the death of Jesus, but rather uses the note from Mark that Jesus was truly dead to further his Christological dreams. However, he has another purpose: to prove that he did not write the so-called first letter of John. The author of that letter – whoever he was, it doesn’t matter here, but what is certain is that he was a man and wrote as a man with a soft pen, unlike the Fourth Gospel writer who has softened the forms of his style and taken away every muscle and nerve – that man says that Jesus came with water and blood, meaning that at the beginning of his ministry he was attested as the Messiah through baptism with water and ultimately through baptism with blood, so that water and blood testify on earth in communion with the Spirit (1 John 5:6, 8). And the Fourth Gospel writer makes this testimony, this blood and water testimony, consist in the fact that when that soldier had stabbed Jesus in the side, blood and water flowed out!
Thus, the significance to the Fourth Gospel writer of Jesus finally being shown as the true Passover lamb is evident, and this explains the transformation he allowed himself in the chronology of Holy Week.
8. The chronology of the week of suffering.
Therefore, the Fourth Gospel has taken away the character of the Passover meal from the last supper of Jesus with the disciples, he has reported nothing about the institution of the Lord’s Supper, he has afterwards reminded anxiously that the celebration of the Passover meal was approaching that evening, he has finally concocted a feature that made Jesus equal to the Passover lamb, so that it would be certain and every reader would notice that Jesus himself was the true Passover lamb and was sacrificed for the sins of the world, while the Jews enjoyed the shadow, the old legal Passover meal. According to him, Jesus was not sacrificed on the first day of Passover, but on the Sabbath following the Passover evening, which is this first holiday – he therefore says very awkwardly (as if this coincidental circumstance could only have persuaded the Jews not to allow the bodies to remain on the cross) that Sabbath day was a great day (chapter 19, verse 31) – thus, his account is also fragmented on this aspect, as it becomes clear that the significance of this Sabbath, which he initially set to be the first day of Passover, is blurred.
Mark arranged things so that Jesus offered his body, blood, and flesh to the disciples at the same moment that the Jews had to content themselves with the shadow, the Paschal lamb. Jesus was crucified on the first day of Passover, and the Sabbath during which he lay in the grave was now the counterpart to that Sabbath on which God once rested after creating the new world.
Furthermore, it was only Luke who called the first day of Passover the preparation day for the following Sabbath, thus robbing it of its independent meaning (Luke 23:54). The parallel remark in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 15:42) is partly a later addition borrowed from the fourth Gospel, as evidenced by the overcrowding of the sentence, a style not typical of Mark. Matthew only used the term “preparation day” in his episode about the Roman guards after learning it from Luke (Matthew 27:62).
We do not want to hold the Fourth Gospel responsible or rely on it when we overturn the chronology of Mark. We also do not want to note how unlikely it is that the trial took place on the first day of Passover and that the priests dared to execute Jesus on this day when they feared his followers. Nor do we want to remind ourselves that the account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper has dissolved, or that all parts of this story have suffered the same fate of dissolution, so that we have no more history before us. Rather, we need only to recall how the chronology of the Passion Week was shaped by the Christian idea to have the right to say that it was formed later than there was a Christian community, a Christian self-consciousness. This is the kind of tautology that the spirit has suffered from, been tormented and bloodthirsty, for eighteen centuries.
Like true Christian art, especially painting, when it was still truly Christian, reached its peak in the portrayal of the sufferings and martyrdoms of the saints, and found its highest task in depicting the instruments of torture, the executioners, the gruesome contortions, distortions, and disfigurements that the bodies of the saints must suffer under the rough fists of the persecutors, so in this section the evangelical view has heaped up the most significant descriptions from the Old Testament of the sufferings of the righteous and worked them into one story. The only difference from the Old Testament view is that if in the latter the idea of suffering turns into the victorious revenge, the Christian spirit has given suffering a deeper meaning and sought to bring about the reversal, the peripeteia, in a different way. But not yet in the true sense! Suffering is still worked out too much in its crude externality, not yet fully grasped as inner and in itself world-conquering. Moreover, it is only viewed in this person as the true, as the highest, so its overcoming and dissolution cannot be viewed in a general form in the ongoing development of history. This person must rather rise bodily, she must win by bodily means, as she suffered bodily and as her bodily suffering appeared as a significant object of contemplation: i.e. this person must rise bodily and through the sense of touch convince her own that she has won. —-
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