Torn

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“Crucifixion was a powerful symbol throughout the Roman world. It was not just a means of liquidating undesirables; it did so with the maximum degradation and humiliation. It said, loud and clear: we are in charge here; you are our property; we can do what we like with you. It insisted, coldly and brutally, on the absolute sovereignty of Rome, and of Caesar. This is what happens to rebel leaders. Crucifixion was a symbolic act with a clear and frightening meaning.”1 N.T.Wright According to Jerome Neyrey, death on the cross was a disgraceful death, for slaves and criminals, that included torture and mutilation of the body, often in front of loved ones. Eyes and face were assaulted, hands amputated, the body was scourged, and rendered repulsive. The crucified was publicly stripped naked. “Crucifixion would have been considered the most shameful of deaths.”2 So “What makes a death praiseworthy?”3 Ancient rhetoric had conventions to honor death posthumously which included the manner of death, what was done to pay tribute after death (e.g. games) and civic and divine honors including prodigies (e.g. Julius Caesar’s death accompanied by comets).4 Strange events and omens in both Jewish and Roman traditions accompanied the death of great figures.5 Prominent Greek philosophers were given this honor as well.6 Death could be made honorable. “Matthew does not recount the glorious death of a martyr.”7 The glorification of human idols is not present. There are no games, no tales of heroic deeds. Shame, pain, mocked Jesus, as He was crucified and lots were cast for His garments. Onlookers, priest and scribes, elders and thieves, soldiers and non believers passing by, mocked Jesus in His presence and God in His silence. There w... ... middle of paper ... ...an not be detached from the human experience or sentimentalized. According to Chronis‘ reflection on the Gospel of Mark, Jesus reveals his true identity through his rejection and suffering which is the equivalent of God showing His face.12 The cross becomes an eschatological event manifesting the totality of Jesus’ ministry on earth revealing His identity as the obedient Son of God. Works Cited M. Eugene Boring. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes: Volume VIII, New Testament Articles, Matthew, Mark. editor, Leander E. Keck et al. (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1995), 492-493.11 Daniel M. Gurtner. The Torn Veil: Matthew’s Exposition of the the Death of Jesus. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007),140.12 Chronis, Harry L. “The Torn Veil: Cultus and Christology in Mark 15:37-39.” Journal of Biblical Literature 101 no 1 Mr 1982,110
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