Judgment in Jewish Court
Excerpts from Mark 14:53-65 (similar accounts in
Matthew 26:57-68, Luke 22:54-65, and John 18:19-24):
53And they led Jesus to the high priest;
and all of the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled.
55Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony
against Jesus to put him to death. 63And the high priest tore
his mantle, and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64You
have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned
him as deserving death. 65And some began to spit on him, and to
cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the
guards received him with blows.
The above would have been based on Jewish testimony.
The only documented conflict to Roman support of the
Jesus movement are written accounts that Jesus was struck with a reed while
in Roman custody:
Matthew 27:27-31 states:
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus
into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And
they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of
thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And
kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And
they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when
they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes
on him, and led him away to crucify him.
Six very important points regarding the above
Being that the event took
place in the Roman praetorium, it would have been based strictly on Roman
witness, the very ones who would have been involved in promoting deception.
Jews very rarely entered Roman buildings (considered defiled). John 18:28
even records that the Jews did not enter the praetorium on that day.
The spitting and mocking
have remarkable similarity to the description in the Jewish court.
In Luke this event did not
involve Roman soldiers, just Jewish soldiers in Herod’s court. And in Luke
the Jewish soldiers did not strike Jesus.
The accounts in the Jewish
court are in all four Gospels. They are more angry and violent than the
excerpt in the Roman praetorium. Being struck in the head with a reed is
hardly the beating commonly portrayed in Christian folklore.
The Christian folklore
version of a violent beating by Roman soldiers conflicts significantly with
Pilate’s public defense of Jesus in front of the Jewish mob.
And why would the Romans
beat Jesus in one set of clothes and then go to the trouble of re-dressing
him in his original clothes prior to leaving the praetorium?
The traditional word-of-mouth version of the “crown
of thorns” in Christian folklore imagines long, menacing thorns tearing
into Jesus’ scalp causing great pain with blood streaming down his face.
These are strictly
word-of-mouth images since written documentation say nothing about thorns
piercing his skin, the blood they may have caused, or the pain they may have
The Gospels refer to Roman
soldiers “plaiting a crown of thorns.” The word plait means to braid,
as in hair or straw, which suggests a softer weave of some flexible stalk.
If not word-of-mouth,
where else did these dramatic additions to a documented incident come from?