Jesus and the Anti-Roman Resistance

A Reassessment of the Arguments

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Fernando Bermejo-Rubio Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain,

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Although the hypothesis according to which Jesus the Galilean was involved in anti-Roman, rebellious thinking and activity has been advanced since the eighteenth century, it is now held only by a minority of New Testament scholars. The aim of the present article is to carefully survey the arguments supporting that hypothesis, and at the same time putting them forward in a novel way. I contend that the cumulative effect of these arguments is compelling, and that only a reconstruction of Jesus in which the aspect of anti-Roman resistance is consistently contemplated deserves credibility. The essay argues that there is in the Gospels a great amount of material which points precisely in the direction of a seditious Jesus, that this material configures a recurrent pattern, and that this pattern enjoys the highest probability of historicity. Furthermore, I evaluate different interpretations which try to make sense of the pattern, with the aim of deciding which of them is historically the most plausible. The essay then argues that the hypothesis advanced here has the greatest explanatory power, that the proposed alternatives are unconvincing and often far-fetched, and that every objection levelled against the hypothesis can be reasonably countered. Finally, I point out the disastrous implications for scholarship of the dismissal of the seditious material and of the correlative rejection of the hypothesis.

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