Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

Jewish autonomy under Roman occupation.

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#1  Postby Alan B » Aug 20, 2011 3:50 pm

A short while ago, I had a brief discussion with a friend of mine (also an atheist) about why was Jesus crucified and not stoned. His reply was that under Roman rule only they could execute someone (e.g. crucfixion) and that the Jews had no autonomy in this matter (even though Jesus was given back to the Jews for sentencing - allegedly).
Yet we read (in the Bible) that on a couple of occaisions the crowd were ready to stone Jesus because he 'blasphemed'.

Could someone enlighten me on the historical practices of Roman occupation with regard to local customs and punishment? Was some autonomy granted to the occupied? Scholarly references would be useful.

I've tried Googling but all I get are the self-opinionated religious offering their views and trying to justify this or that according to their beliefs.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#2  Postby Zwaarddijk » Aug 20, 2011 4:03 pm

Jewish courts were quite curtailed - they could not mete out capital punishment in any Jewish communities within the Roman empire. Some autonomy was granted though - Jewish business laws were used by pharisees when doing business with pharisees, etc. Right now I don't have time to dig up any references, but I can try tomorrow.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#3  Postby Alan B » Aug 20, 2011 4:08 pm

Zwaarddijk wrote:Jewish courts were quite curtailed - they could not mete out capital punishment in any Jewish communities within the Roman empire. Some autonomy was granted though - Jewish business laws were used by pharisees when doing business with pharisees, etc. Right now I don't have time to dig up any references, but I can try tomorrow.

Thanks. Look forward to the info. :cheers:
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#4  Postby Byron » Aug 20, 2011 8:39 pm

Alan B: those are more attempted lynchings than executions, aren't they? Mobs rarely act under colour of law. There's all kinds of anti-Jewish rhetoric going on in the NT, so these accounts have to be taken with a mountain of salt.

As Zwaarddijk says, Jewish legal powers were curtailed by the Roman occupation. The high priest had to take advantage of a brief imperial power vacuum to stone James, brother of Jesus, and got himself deposed over it.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#5  Postby Dogmatic Pyrrhonist » Aug 20, 2011 11:08 pm

Alan B wrote:A short while ago, I had a brief discussion with a friend of mine (also an atheist) about why was Jesus crucified and not stoned. His reply was that under Roman rule only they could execute someone (e.g. crucfixion) and that the Jews had no autonomy in this matter (even though Jesus was given back to the Jews for sentencing - allegedly).
Yet we read (in the Bible) that on a couple of occaisions the crowd were ready to stone Jesus because he 'blasphemed'.

Could someone enlighten me on the historical practices of Roman occupation with regard to local customs and punishment? Was some autonomy granted to the occupied? Scholarly references would be useful.

I've tried Googling but all I get are the self-opinionated religious offering their views and trying to justify this or that according to their beliefs.


Presumably the Romans executed him for what they saw as criminal activities. Regardless of autonomy of the Jewish state at the time, Roman justice used crucifixion for scum (decapitation for less scum, up to strangulation for the toffs). If the Jews had killed him then it would have been stoning, because they seemed very fond of stoning.
I think it comes down to rabble rouser in a province is a case of Romans keeping the peace, and as such it would have been a Roman execution. I suspect the anti-jewish flavour to those stories may have had some enhancement over time, possibly when rewritten to appeal to Romans. As another poster mentioned, best taken with a small mountain of salt.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#6  Postby dogsgod » Aug 20, 2011 11:53 pm

The story has Jesus suffer just as the Jews suffered under Roman occupation. Except for the know-it-alls, we don't know that the story is anything other than allegorical fiction. There are so many things wrong with the trial and execution storyline that it is just not reasonable to believe a real trial and execution could have actually happened the way that one was written to have happened.

Here is some info:http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/sanhedrin.html
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#7  Postby james1v » Aug 21, 2011 1:32 am

Jebus was a nobody, allegedly. So, why stone to death his alleged famous brother James? You would think, a nobody, would have been dealt with casually (stoning by a mob), rather than a grand trial (with no records)! Is that Haddock, Cod or stigmata fish i smell? :scratch:




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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#8  Postby surreptitious57 » Aug 21, 2011 2:25 am

Not directly relevant but interesting nevertheless : under Roman law if
a man had been sentenced to death and the instrument of choice was the
whip there was only a limit of thirty nine strikes that could be used. For if
the soldier administering the punishment went beyond that he then would be
sentenced to death. It is rather puzzling that in this scenario a man could end
up being threatened with death and still survive. Have no idea how effective this
was. That it would be painful is not in dispute but would it be sufficient to kill you
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#9  Postby Dogmatic Pyrrhonist » Aug 21, 2011 8:14 am

surreptitious57 wrote:Not directly relevant but interesting nevertheless : under Roman law if
a man had been sentenced to death and the instrument of choice was the
whip there was only a limit of thirty nine strikes that could be used. For if
the soldier administering the punishment went beyond that he then would be
sentenced to death. It is rather puzzling that in this scenario a man could end
up being threatened with death and still survive. Have no idea how effective this
was. That it would be painful is not in dispute but would it be sufficient to kill you

Without antibiotics, 39 strokes applied with sufficient gusto would probably lead to death, even if they didn't result in it immediately.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#10  Postby John P. M. » Aug 21, 2011 9:48 am

There are many cases of Jewish stoning, or attempted stoning, in the first century (if we take the biblical texts at face value). Stephen is a 'famous' example, since Saul (Paul) was there and supported it.

All the verses where they attempted or wanted to stone Jesus, in addition to verses like Acts 5:26, Acts 14:5, 6 and Acts 14:19, seem to suggest that stoning was 'all the rage' back then.

- Since the Jews wound up being blamed for the death of Jesus anyway, I guess he could just as well have allowed them to stone him in the first place. But then of course Christians would have had to wear necklaces with a set of small pebbles, and that wouldn't really stand out from other jewelry. :think:

I guess the Christian (and more serious overall) answer to that would be that at the time they wanted to stone Jesus, his 'mission' wasn't yet finished. Other reasons?


Byron wrote:
The high priest had to take advantage of a brief imperial power vacuum to stone James, brother of Jesus, and got himself deposed over it.


Where is this story relayed?
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#11  Postby Alan B » Aug 21, 2011 1:59 pm

All very interesting, but what I think I am really looking for is evidence of Roman policy in occupied territories in the first century CE (whether or not the territory concerned is Judea). The Jesus story just serves to muddy the waters.
Did the Roman Governor of an occupied territory have the authority to 'change the rules' on how he governed a particular province?
Could he allow some degree of autonomy for the locals thereby, perhaps, making the province easier to govern?

Now, considering Pilate & Judea (and not involving the Jesus stuff), are there any Roman records on how he governed?
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#12  Postby Zwaarddijk » Aug 29, 2011 3:14 pm

Sorry for not posting- I was suspended. IIRC Josephus is one source as to the limited powers of Jewish courts to sentence anyone to death. I have been busy doing other things though (writing up a debunking of galaxian's outlandish claims in another thread), am trying to catch up with this right now.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#13  Postby dejuror » Aug 31, 2011 2:03 am

Dogmatic Pyrrhonist wrote:....Without antibiotics, 39 strokes applied with sufficient gusto would probably lead to death, even if they didn't result in it immediately.


"Paul" was beaten FIVE times with 39 strokesand survived in his assumed letter to the Corinthians .

And, "Paul" also claimed he was Stoned and NO trial is recorded in the Pauline writings or Acts of the Apostles.

2 Cor. 11
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned....


Acts 14
...And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. ...


So Jesus could have been stoned by a MOB if he did exist and "Paul" if he did exist and was beaten could survive afer FIVE separate beatings of 39 lashes.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#14  Postby Alan B » Aug 31, 2011 9:13 am

Yes, dejuror, we can all read the Bible with its dubious historical pedigree, but where are the Roman sources for Pilate's style of governorship?
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#15  Postby dejuror » Aug 31, 2011 10:42 pm

Alan B wrote:Yes, dejuror, we can all read the Bible with its dubious historical pedigree, but where are the Roman sources for Pilate's style of governorship?


Well, I am not sure that ALL actually read the Bible.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#16  Postby CarlPierce » Sep 01, 2011 9:28 am

Whatever you do - don't mention halibut, Jehovah and stoning in the same sentence.
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#17  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 01, 2011 9:50 am

CarlPierce wrote:Whatever you do - don't mention halibut, Jehovah and stoning in the same sentence.

Dammit! But, I expected to see the clip. Here it is:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsVAYFSEBrA[/youtube]
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#18  Postby CarlPierce » Sep 01, 2011 4:05 pm

The_Metatron wrote:
CarlPierce wrote:Whatever you do - don't mention halibut, Jehovah and stoning in the same sentence.

Dammit! But, I expected to see the clip. Here it is:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsVAYFSEBrA[/youtube]


Sorry :thumbup:
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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#19  Postby Stein » Sep 02, 2011 5:21 pm

Alan B wrote:All very interesting, but what I think I am really looking for is evidence of Roman policy in occupied territories in the first century CE (whether or not the territory concerned is Judea). The Jesus story just serves to muddy the waters.
Did the Roman Governor of an occupied territory have the authority to 'change the rules' on how he governed a particular province?
Could he allow some degree of autonomy for the locals thereby, perhaps, making the province easier to govern?

Now, considering Pilate & Judea (and not involving the Jesus stuff), are there any Roman records on how he governed?


I don't have time to go through it right now, but there's an extensive thread partly related to this question over at the Funny Far -- er, the FRDB board:

http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=281356

I could be wrong, but as I recall, it did address a few of the questions Alan B may have.

Cheers,

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Re: Romans, Jews & Stoning - a Question.

#20  Postby TimONeill » Sep 03, 2011 1:13 am

Alan B wrote:A short while ago, I had a brief discussion with a friend of mine (also an atheist) about why was Jesus crucified and not stoned. His reply was that under Roman rule only they could execute someone (e.g. crucfixion) and that the Jews had no autonomy in this matter (even though Jesus was given back to the Jews for sentencing - allegedly).
Yet we read (in the Bible) that on a couple of occaisions the crowd were ready to stone Jesus because he 'blasphemed'.

Could someone enlighten me on the historical practices of Roman occupation with regard to local customs and punishment? Was some autonomy granted to the occupied? Scholarly references would be useful.

I've tried Googling but all I get are the self-opinionated religious offering their views and trying to justify this or that according to their beliefs.


Your friend is wrong. The Jewish authorities - namely the Temple priests through the Sanhedrin - did have the legal right to execute people. This was mainly for religious offenses such as blasphemy, but the Sadducees were also the day-to-day rulers of Jerusalem under Roman suzerainty, with the Temple guards acting as a kind of civil and religious police force in the city. The evidence for their capacity to execute people is clear, though Christian apologists try to dance around it because it proves their gospels wrong.

The most clear evidence that the Temple priests had authority to execute is archaeological. In 1871 an inscription was found on the Temple mount in Jerusalem:

Image

That was erected over the gate of the inner court of the Temple, marking the point beyond which gentiles could not enter. It reads:

MHQENA ALLOGENH EISPO-
REUESQAI ENTOS TOU, PE-
RI TO IERON, TRUFAKTOU KAI
PERIBOLOU. OS D AN LH-
FQH, EAUTWI AITIOS ES-
TAI DIA TO ECAKOLOU-
QEIN QANATON.

NOT ONE FOREIGNER IS TO
ENTER INSIDE THE, AROUND
THE SANCTUARY, BARRIER AND
EMBANKMENT. HE WHO IS
SEIZED, HIMSELF RESPONSIBLE
IS FOR THE FOLLOWING
DEATH PENALTY.


Later Talmudic literature referred back to the rules of the Sanhedrin in the Second Temple Period and detailed the legal procedures for capital punishment in that time (ie Jesus' time, before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD). The priesthood were able to execute via several methods: burning, strangling, execution by the sword and, for blasphemy, stoning. Josephus makes it clear that these penalties were enforced, along with flogging for lesser offenses.

What Josephus also makes clear is that the priesthood could not carry out the death penalty without Roman imprimatur. The Romans took legal affairs in their territories very seriously and, unlike Galilee which was ruled by a Jewish client king, Judea was under direct Roman control. So while the Jewish priests could condemn and execute people for a range of civil and religious offences, they had to send to the Prefect in Caesarea for permission to do so. The High Priest Ananus was not "exploiting a loophole" when he executed Jesus' brother James in 62 AD, he was doing what any High Priest could do - having someone stoned to death. He simply overstepped his authority by doing so without Roman imprimatur, since the new Prefect was still on his way from Rome to Caesarea, and so Ananus got deposed for it. He wasn't deposed for stoning James, just for doing so without Roman permission.

The gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus are fanciful on many levels and are clearly not historical. A Sanhedrin trial could not be held at night, its verdict had to be considered for several days and nothing Jesus said, according to the gospels, was actually blasphemous anyway. But the least historical element is the idea that the Sanhedrin didn't have the power to execute a blasphemer. The earlier gospels skip around the reason the Sadducees don't execute Jesus themselves and hand him over to the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilatus instead. Only the last and latest gospel, gJohn, states (wrongly) that the Jewish leaders didn't have the authority to execute religious wrongdoers (John 18: 31).

The fact is that the gospel writers are desperately trying to get around a highly awkward historical fact: their so-called Messiah was not just executed, but crucified. This was a very difficult fact for the early Christians; one Paul referred to as "a stumbling block to the Jews and a foolishness to the Gentiles" (1Cor 1:23). Crucifixion was the worst possible form of execution and one reserved for non-Romans and even then only for runaway slaves, pirates, bandits and rebels against the Empire. Jesus wasn't a slave and clearly wasn't a bandit or pirate, so the fact that he was crucified meant that he was obviously considered by Rome as a Jewish rebel. In the wake of the failed Jewish Rebellion of 66-70 AD, when Jewish rebels were not exactly flavour of the month with the Gentiles Christians were trying to convert, this was a real PR problem. This graffito from Rome shows how awkward the fact that Jesus was crucified was for early Christianity.

The gospel of Mark, which seems to have been written very soon after the Jewish Rebellion and which was the earliest gospel and the source of Matthew and Luke, found a way to get around this awkward fact. It depicts the Sanhedrin as curiously paralysed in the face of Jesus' responses to their questioning and so has them handing him over to Pilatus on trumped up charges of sedition. Thus the author of gMark, who was most likely writing outside Palestine for a non-Jewish audience (possibly in Rome itself) made Jesus out to be the innocent victim of the wicked Jewish leaders, who were amongst the "bad guys" in the recent uprising in Roman eyes, and not a seditious rebel against Rome as his execution would imply. gMatthew and gLuke followed suit and gJohn dispensed with the idea of the Jewish leaders being to blame and made "the Jews" as a whole the bad guys (which made Jesus and co what, Eskimos?).

The idea that the Sanhedrin did not have the power to execute a supposed blasphemer is total nonsense, though it's something Christian apologists have to try to uphold because it's in their gospels. What we seen in the gospels is a clumsy attempt to explain away the fact that their Messiah was executed as a rebel: something they do with great awkwardness and which is clearly garbage. The effort they expend to explain this awkward fact away is also a clear indication that Jesus' crucifixion is historical, which is another nail in the coffin of the creaky "Jesus never existed" theories beloved of amateur bloggers and silly hobbyists.
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