A Failed Spectacle: The Role of the Crowd in Luke 23

In: Biblical Interpretation
Robyn J. Whitaker Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity, Australia

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That Jesus’ death is uniquely portrayed as a spectacle of death in Luke’s Gospel is widely acknowledged. Most scholarship has focused on the figure of Jesus, his self-control and emotions, to debate how much it concurs with the ancient ideal of noble death. Little attention, however, has been given to the role of the crowd in Luke’s passion. This paper analyzes the role of the crowd in Luke’s passion to argue that Luke has framed the cross in a manner fitting of death in the arena. By emphasizing the crowd’s size, placement, and role in the drama, I argue that Luke presents Jesus’ death as a failed spectacle and suggest some political and theological ramifications.

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