others.82 But they did not, generally speaking, take legal proceedings against one another for some kind of 'heresy'. Jesus may well have challenged the general tendency to draw boundaries - he is, after all, accused of eating with sinners and tax gatherers, of breaking the sabbath and of disregarding purity rules, and stories are told of his inappropriate attitudes to women and children, Samaritans and Gentiles. Yet contemporary inner-Jewish debates are reflected in the controversies reported in the gospels, especially those between Jesus and the Pharisees; in fact, Jesus appears very like a Pharisee. At first sight it is by no means clear why the Jerusalem authorities collaborated with Pilate against Jesus.
The gospel accounts present us with procedural problems as far as the trial scenes are concerned, and the passion narratives display a tendency to decrease Roman responsibility and increase the blame resting on the Jews. Certainly crucifixion was a Roman punishment, so the Romans not the Jews should be regarded as responsible for what happened. Yet conflict between Jesus and Jewish leaders is a persistent feature of the gospels. It seems quite plausible that the act of riding into Jerusalem hailed by crowds or, perhaps even more likely, the incident in the temple provoked the authorities to move against Jesus. In the presence of the high priest, so-called false witnesses attributed to Jesus a saying against the temple (Mark i3:2/Matt 24:2/Luke 21:6); but other evidence (Matt 23:38/Luke 13:35; John 2:19 and Gos. Thom. 71) suggests it was not false -he did say something about destroying and rebuilding the temple.83 The demonstration in the temple, then, might well have led the Jewish authorities to feel it was wise to proceed against this trouble-maker before the Romans acted to quell popular disturbances.84 The Roman occupation was both the context and reason for taking action.
The best explanation ofRoman action, Jewish collaboration and later Christian claims is that Jesus' message and activity centred upon the immediacy of God's kingdom, and the crucial importance of responding to the crisis of his own coming. The imminent realisation of God's kingdom was anticipated in his prophetic act of 'cleansing' the temple, as it probably had been in other staged acts - the triumphal entry, the re-enactment of the giving of manna in the desert, the miracles of healing and exorcism. Jesus announced the consummation of God's sovereignty on earth as something to be shortly
82 See Dunn, Jesus remembered, 260-92, on the factionalism and unity ofJudaism; also pt i, ch. 1 and pt iii, ch. 10, below.
84 Both Josephus and the gospels bear witness to the Romans taking violent and, to the Jews, blasphemous action when disturbances arose in the temple.
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