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Monday, June 11, 2007

Jesus was way cool

Secret Service removes cylinder from his handgun.

Last week we reported the White House was disappointed with the National Intelligence Estimate which concluded that Al Qaeda had reconstituted and regenerated itself and posed a greater threat than at any time since 9/11. We should have said the White House was “pleased” with the findings. We regret the error.

Cuba: Boatload of Americans
Detained After Treacherous
Voyage From Florida

Tell authorities they were seeking “better health care.”


Download/play the song:

Jesus was way cool
Everybody liked Jesus
Everybody wanted to hang out with him
Anything he wanted to do, he did
He turned water into wine,
And if he had wanted to,
He could have turned wheat into marijuana,
Sugar into cocaine,
Or vitamin pills into amphetamines
He walked on the water and swam on the land
He would tell these stories and people would listen
He was really cool
If you were blind, or lame,
You just went up to Jesus*
And he would put his hands on you and you would be healed
That's so cool

He could have played guitar better than Hendrix
He could have told the future
He could have baked the most delicious cake in the world
He could have scored more goals than Wayne Gretsky
He could have danced better than Barishnikof
Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of

Jesus told people to eat his body and drink his blood
That's so cool Jesus was so cool
But then some people got jealous of how cool he was,
So they killed him
But then he rose from the dead!
He rose from the dead,
Danced around and went up to heaven
I mean, that's so cool
Jesus was way cool
No wonder there are so many Christians

Download/play the song:

Jesus was way cool.

The story of the guy they couldn't hang was so popular that they were able to start a rligion from it.

  1. They provided a drug (vinegar)
  2. They did not break his legs (so he did not die)
  3. They poked him in the side and blood and water came out (he was alive at that stage)
  4. they bought the body (bribed the soldier Longinus)
  5. they provided an empty burial cave (expensive! so they were alone and could treat him, and other jews would have refused to be buried with a criminal)
  6. he was seen alive and then fucked off to france
  7. where he had many children who's families rule the world's banking today

apart from the last item it seems believable for me.

Jesus was way cool (listen to the king missile song!)

2000 years and counting.

And millions of mothers still pray to him every day... what do you tell them? Stop believing?


Then came the soldier, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.' (John 19:31-2).
So the two criminals crucified with Jesus, who had certainly been as much abused beforehand as he was, were still alive. Their legs were broken so that they could not straighten themselves up on their own any more, and so they painfully suffocated within a few hours.
'But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs' (John 19:33). This is very strange and inexplicable behaviour on the part of the Roman soldiers. Why did these hardened men not break Jesus' legs too, to ensure death?
The theological interpretation, that the word of the prophet in Exod. 12:46 had to be fulfilled (' ... neither shall ye break a bone thereof'), is not very helpful. One should instead ask what the soldiers were thinking to make them exempt Jesus from this terrible treatment. It is beyond question that they had their doubts about his being dead, and viewed his unconsciousness with scepticism. Otherwise they could also have spared him the lance thrust in the side. Would one not have expected them to break the legs of all the crucified men, to be sure that they were all dead? Up to this point we hear how Jesus was treated with even more than the usual contempt, with blows to the face, the mock sceptre and the crown of thorns on his head. Why this sudden change of mood, this 'privileged' and rather merciful treatment?
The Gospels do not provide us with any consistent answer. The only point they agree on is that Jesus died at the ninth hour with a loud cry, while those crucified next to him obviously continued their agony. According to John (19:33-5) one of the soldiers drove his lance into Jesus' thorax, and some blood and water flowed out.

Mark, however (15:44-5), gives us an interesting clue. Pilate, surprised that Jesus was already dead, summoned the centurion, who confirmed the death, and Pilate then released the body of Jesus. The centurion is the same one who, moved by the events during the crucifixion, praised Jesus as the true Son of God (Mark 15:39; Mark 27:54; Luke 23:47). Who was this centurion?

In the apocryphal 'Acta Pilata' he is called Longinus and presented as the captain who supervised the Crucifixion. According to a tradition testified to by Gregory of Nyssa, Longinus was said to have later become a bishop in his Cappadocian homeland. This change of heart may mean that he had some connection with Jesus and his followers before the Crucifixion, or was even a secret follower of Jesus. This would make many of the problems about the events during the Crucifixion understandable. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and the centurion Longinus were among the secret followers of Jesus. Since they held influential positions, they were informed well enough in advance about what the revolutionary exposure of Jesus was leading to. Joseph was highly respected as a member of the Sanhedrin. Since the second century BC this had been the high council of the supreme Jewish authorities for all affairs of state, judicature and religion. In consisted of seventy members under the chairmanship of the high priest. Nicodemus, who was initiated by Jesus under cover of night (John 3:1-22), was also a Jewish councillor. Thanks to their positions Joseph and Nicodemus had surely been kept well informed about the time and place of the execution and were thus able to plan the rescue of their master. We hear an echo of the advance information given to Nicodemus in a highly revered hagiographical legend of the Middle Ages. It tells how Nicodemus, in a letter sent to Mary Magdalene, warned Jesus about the attack by the Jews, when he was in Ephraim (John 11:53f).

Joseph and Nicodemus knew that the Crucifixion itself could not be avoided. But if they could manage to take Jesus down from the cross early enough, and everything was well planned, it would be possible to keep him alive, and he would probably be able to continue his mission unobserved. It was crucially important to the whole operation that the apostles were not involved. They had gone into hiding for fear of persecution. Nothing would be done against the respected councillors Joseph and Nicodemus or the Roman centurion. So for a limited period there was a chance that the daring operation could be carried out successfully.

The Side Wound And The Miracle Drink

Let us return to the stabbing with the lance. A detailed analysis shows that the term used in the Greek original for the thrust of the soldier, 'nyssein', means a light scratch, puncture or stab to the skin, not a thrust with full force, let alone a deep penetration. In the Vulgate (the generally recognized Latin translation of the Bible) one already finds the incorrect translation 'aperire', which means 'to open'. But actually this is not the meaning at all. The procedure served as a kind of 'official confirmation' of death: if the body did not show any reaction to a light stabbing, it could be assumed that the person was dead. Probably the centurion mentioned in the Gospels had performed this test himself. It was not meant to be a death thrust at all; Jesus was considered to be dead already and for this reason he had already been spared having his legs broken. One might add that an experienced soldier would hardly have made a fatal thrust to the side; it would have been frontally into the heart.

The exegetes find it difficult to explain the emergence of the blood and water. Some can only see this occurrence as a miracle, since the circulation stops at death; for others it is the symbolic interpretation of the elements blood and water which comes to the fore. Scientific explanations have also been attempted, where the water is seen as blood serum which forms when blood decomposes. But such decomposition starts at the earliest six hours after death takes place.

We should not, however, set aside this passage in the Gospel of John as of no significance, because we have to assume that the eyewitness (the source of the text) wanted to place special emphasis on the blood and water. For the sentence following this observation in the text runs: 'And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.' (19:35) This is crucial and fits nicely into the picture we have drawn of John's style of writing: a depiction as it were on two levels, with a superficial way of reading for the masses and with the refined references, which we keep discovering strewn throughout the text, for those who know how to read between the lines. The special emphasis so clearly given to the testimony about the blood and water which flowed from the side of Jesus, was really meant to show that Jesus was still alive.

Even if many centuries were to pass before the discovery of the circulation system, it was a known fact at the time of Jesus that corpses do not bleed, and blood serum is not seen on the wounds of a body which has just died. Even Origen (185-254), who did actually believe Jesus was dead at the time when the blood and water came out from the wounds, pointed out that corpses do not bleed.

Everything had been carefully prepared by Joseph and his helpers up until the lance thrust. But the man from Arimathea had begun making the necessary preparations much earlier than this. The first thing he had done was to purchase a garden in the immediate vicinity of the Crucifixion site. With wise foresight he decided to have a new tomb cut from the rock on the estate, somewhere the supposedly dead body could be quickly brought for safety. It was essential to have an unused tomb ready: to place Jesus in a tomb in which others were already buried would have given rise to legal objections, because people who had been executed would normally be thought to dishonour the bodies of the faithful which had already been placed in the tomb. There would be no objection to a 'burial' in an empty tomb, particularly since, as Josephus reports, political criminals who were executed by the Romans -- and Jesus was such a person -- could be allowed an honourable burial which would be denied to an ordinary criminal. Naturally Joseph of Arimathea could not say that he was busy preparing a tomb for Jesus. Therefore we read in the Gospels that Joseph brought the body of Jesus to his own new family grave. Let us consider this a moment. Why on earth should Joseph, who came from Arimathea near the Samarian border, build his family tomb in Jerusalem of all places? He certainly had no intention of moving and settling there. We read in the Pilate texts that after the burial the Jews came to visit him in his home town of Arimathea, to which he had returned. In compliance with the tradition Joseph would certainly have had his family tomb in his home town. The official line in the text saying that it was Joseph's own tomb building, was meant for the uninitiated, who would not think twice about it. Actually the new tomb construction in the garden hear Golgotha was not meant for the dead, neither Joseph and his family nor anyone else. It was intended solely to serve as an alibi, to avoid having to move the seriously wounded Jesus very far, should they succeed in getting him off the Cross soon enough. The persecutors of Jesus would then be satisfied, thinking him dead in the grave.

The fact that the Crucifixion took place on the day of preparation was advantageous in a way, because it meant that they could greatly speed up the 'burial' without arousing suspicion. Of course they had to make sure that Jesus really did appear to have died. This too they could not just leave to chance.

In the Gospels a certain event is reported as happening just before the alleged death of Jesus. 'Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop [a plant used for ritual sprinkling], and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.' (John 19:29-30).

How did it happen that Jesus seemed to die immediately after he had taken the bitter drink? Was it really vinegar which he was given? It was fully in line with Jewish custom to offer a person sentenced to death wine spiced with myrrh or incense, to alleviate the pain by the slight narcotic effect. In the Talmud there is a passage which says: 'The one departing to be put to death was given a piece of incense in a cup of wine, to help him fall asleep.' (Sanh. 43a). But there is no mention of a spiced wine. All the evangelists agree that it was a brew with a very bitter taste. In Latin vinegar is called 'acetum', from 'acidus', 'bitter'. The Roman soldiers did not merely tolerate the drink, one of them even helped Jesus to take it (Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:29).

Let us look more deeply at this statement. The sponge was offered to Jesus on a hyssop stem. Hyssop is a plant with a weak stem and hardly suitable for holding up a wet sponge. Even a bundle of hyssop would not have the rigidity required to make it possible, although one does not have to assume the Cross was very high -- there were crosses on which the sentenced person was fixed with the feet just above the ground. In such a case the sponge would not have to be lifted up very high to be offered. But perhaps the instrument used to offer Jesus the 'vinegar' was confused by a simple error: 'hyssos' ('short spear') was taken as 'hyssopos' ('hyssop'). It is a soldier who offers Jesus the sponge, as the Synoptic authors relate. Hence it is likely that this confusion did actually occur. Therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that the centurion Longinus raised the sponge to the lips of Jesus on his spear.

One notices how the vinegar drink was introduced into John's narrative as if it had been brought to the Crucifixion for this very purpose. It was a part of the preparations which Joseph, Nicodemus and the centurion had made in order to carry out their plan. One can only speculate as to what the bitter fluid consisted of. In those days there was a wide assortment of pain relieving and intoxicating substances, and the healing arts of the period were excellent at making mixtures which had unusual effects. Perhaps the drink was made of a bitter wine to which a measured portion of opium had been added. The exceptional anaesthetic and narcotic effect of opium was well known to the Jews even in pre-Christian times. Opium is the milky juice of the scratched, unripe seed-heads of a certain poppy plant ('Papaver somniferum'). This type of poppy was widespread in Palestine. Hence one may surmise that Jesus was given opium dissolved in some fluid while on the cross.

The narcotic effect of opium is so strong that it can lead to a state of stupor in which the person is completely without external sensation. The main active ingredient is morphine, which has a sedative, narcotic and breath-inhibiting effect. The alkaloid papaverine has a pronounced cramp-relaxing effect. Combined with the many other effective components, and by the admixture of various additional substances, opium solutions can be well adjusted for a particular purpose. Hence the effect of this drug was in many ways ideal for Joseph and his friends: not only was Jesus given the best of pain-killers, the dose was designed to make him lose consciousness in a short time and so be able to hang on the cross 'as if dead'. The appearance of a sudden death was enhanced by the fact that opium strongly lowers the heart rate, calms the breathing to an extraordinary degree, and makes the body completely limp. And yet, administered in the correct dosage, as was known to the experienced Essene therapeuts, it involved no danger to the heart; on the contrary it strengthened it.

If Jesus was actually close to suffocation -- which almost all the medical opinions assume was the cause of death -- the loud cry before he 'died', which the three Synoptic evangelists expressly mention, would be quite impossible. A suffocating person could hardly manage a whisper. But Jesus cried out. And in John we read, 'When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.' (19:30). Jesus was able to say these words after he had taken the drink and felt the narcotic effect increasing. He was able to say them because he was not close to death but to a deep, induced state of rest.

The Open Rock Tomb

The moment Jesus was seen to hang unconscious from the cross, Joseph made haste to secure the release of the body as soon as possible. He exerted his full influence on Pilate to achieve the fastest possible release. One exegete even suggests that the wealthy Joseph paid a high sum in bribery, to speed things up. That is quite conceivable. Joseph was pressed for time, and any means would have seemed justified to him when it came to shortening the slow bureaucratic process. The other crucified men had their legs broken, but in Jesus' case the centurion just checked with his 'lance stab' that he was dead. Pilate released the 'corpse', and at once Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus from the Cross and brought him to the nearby rock tomb.

In the seclusion of the tomb chamber, preparations for the healing of Jesus were underway on the middle bench. The opium drink helped him to sleep deeply beyond pain, and the medical packing using the enormous amount of herbs was intended to make the wounds heal faster. Joseph and Nicodemus knew they could not leave Jesus in the tomb for long. The Jews were extremely suspicious and feared that his followers might steal the body to pretend there had been a miraculous resurrection. According to Matthew (27:62-6), they asked Pilate for someone to watch at the sepulchre themselves. It was gradually growing more difficult to get Jesus out unobserved. One can no longer say whether a Roman watch really was assigned to the tomb -- only Matthew reports it. It does seem, however, as if it was introduced into the text to add dramatic effect to the angelic apparition. The Jews' desire to set a guard on a corpse must have seemed most peculiar to the Romans, and it is very unlikely that they would have complied with such a request.

During the Sabbath, then, the helpers had time to take care of Jesus, but as soon as he came round they had to move him quickly elsewhere, to avoid further problems from the Jewish authorities.

When the women came to the tomb with the oils for anointing on the first day of the week, they found the stone rolled aside and the tomb empty. Let us hear what the Gospel accounts say. Luke (24:1-5) writes:

'Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?'

Mark (16:4-6) relates:

'And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen: he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.'

After the so-called Resurrection Jesus was said to be constantly entering through locked doors and surprising his followers (John 20:19-26). Why then, one has to ask, was the massive stone rolled aside from the tomb, from the very place where this miraculous 'Resurrection' was said to have happened? It would surely have been a more astonishing miracle if it had been necessary to push the stone aside to let in the ladies with the oils for anointing, and only then find that Jesus had vanished from the sealed chamber. The open tomb shows us that someone had had to act quickly and move Jesus out. Evidently friends were still at the tomb -- the men with the shining garments of Luke, the young man with the white garment of Mark. The shining white robe suggests that they were Essenes. Probably Jesus had been led out just a short while before. Since the feast day of the Passover always coincided with the full moon, it was easy to travel in the bright night. Perhaps the Essenes who stayed behind were going to collect certain items and seal the tomb. The shocked ladies received clear replies to their questions by the Essenes: Jesus had risen again and therefore was no longer here. He had indeed risen, that is from his deep coma. The Luke text is even clearer: 'Why seek ye the living among the dead?' Does that not compel us to assume that Jesus was alive, that it had been possible to save him? Is this not the clear message we get from these Gospel passages?

John, who does not report the episode with the women at the sepulchre, relates in detail an event which it seems must have taken place before the women arrived (John 20:1-18): Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, when it was still dark, and saw the stone rolled away. Shocked, she ran to Peter and John and lamented that someone had taken the Lord out of the sepulchre. When the pair arrived at the tomb and peered in, they saw only the linen clothes, with no trace of Jesus anywhere. Mary Magdalene, who stood weeping before the tomb, asked the gardener if he had carried the body away. When he addressed her by name, she realized it was Jesus.

It is remarkable that Mary Magdalene took Jesus for the gardener. Is this the gloriously resurrected one, a figure unrecognized by his closest companion? Probably they had just led Jesus out of the tomb when Mary Magdalene appeared. So as not to attract attention, they had dressed him in simple garments such as a gardener might wear. The weakened Jesus might even have been given a garden implement as a makeshift walking stick to lean on, which led to the confusion. Moreover, a gardener's skin would be burned to a darker brown by a constant work out of doors. Jesus' face would have been swollen by his injuries, and the aloe-myrrh solution would leave a characteristic brown colouration. This was why Mary Magdalene could not recognize her master in the early twilight, not because he showed himself in a 'transfigured' body as one 'resurrected'.

Mary Magdalene then evidently fell to her knees before Jesus and wanted to touch his feet, like the ladies in Matthew's account (28:9). But Jesus stopped her with the words, 'Touch me not!' (John 20:17). This could be a clear indication that his still wounded and painful body needed to be treated with care and could not bear much touching.

We have an interesting confirmation of this thesis in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. This says that the guard at the tomb saw three men emerge 'and two of them supported the other one'! Does some gloriously resurrected person need support at all? Certainly not, but an injured person, who needs to be brought to safety, and who has just come round from a coma, does.

After these events the scanty remaining passages about Jesus in the Gospels become less reliable, because they are mingled with the myth of the 'Resurrection' and the theological interpretation which takes the man Jesus as the resurrected Christ. Many of the passages are accordingly ambiguous. One thing can however be safely said: Jesus met his disciples again for a while, perhaps in Jerusalem itself, but mainly in Galilee.

The period in which the events after the disappearance from the tomb take place is described in such a muddled manner that no precise conclusions can be drawn. The three days which were said to have passed between Crucifixion and reappearance, denote a mystical number which played a role in the older Resurrection myths. Jesus may well have been looked after for a longer period, until he gradually came to show himself to his followers. In any case the meetings seem always to have been of short duration and secret. It is obvious that he could not show himself publicly, otherwise he would have been arrested again at once. It seems that at first his appearance was affected by his injuries, and his face was probably swollen for a while, so that even his colleagues had difficulty in recognizing him immediately.

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