Reza Aslan on Jesus: A Biblical Scholar Responds


Greg Carey in the Huffington Post:

Aslan seems to assume that Jesus' crucifixion demonstrates that Jesus himself fomented violent sedition. That conclusion is far less obvious than Aslan admits. Crucifixion shows that the Romans regarded Jesus as a threat to public order — and they did. (See the two chapters on Jesus' crucifixion in my Sinners: Jesus and His Earliest Followers.) However, one did not have to practice violence in order to experience Roman wrath. The Qumran community may have anticipated a holy war, but we have no evidence they ever marched out to battle. We have firm archaeological evidence that the Romans destroyed their community in 68 B.C.E. In other words, Jesus need not have promoted violence for the Romans to see him as dangerous.

Second, Jesus' resistance to Rome need not have promoted violence. Aslan does a wonderful job in showing how Jesus' “triumphal entry” amounted to a public demonstration. He demonstrates that “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's” promotes not good citizenship but outright resistance (Mark 12:17). (I've written on these topics as well.) Aslan is aware of how deeply Jesus draws upon the book of Daniel — but he does not acknowledge Daniel's main message. Daniel called forth a community of the wise who would resist their wicked rulers without employing violence. Just as the Judaism of Jesus' day included rebels, it also featured streams of nonviolent resistance. That is where most scholars locate Jesus.