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A stunning feature immediately becomes apparent: that only one of the 'last words' is attested by more than one author. And since Matthew's Passion ture — the women watching 'afar off, Simon of Cyrene, the name 'Golgotha', the time (the third hour), the title 'king of the Jews'. He suggests that between the polarized alternatives of 'history remembered' and 'prophecy historicized' (as posed by Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? xxi, 1-13, against Brown, Death) a third is more plausible: 'history scripturized'. Crossan confuses rather than clarifies this particular issue by tying it so closely to the issue of anti-Semitism in the accounts of Jesus' death.

84. See also A. Yarbro Collins, 'From Noble Death to Crucified Messiah', NTS 40 (1994) 481-503. See again Koester's claim that 'the different versions of the passion narrative in the gospel literature' derive from 'the oral performances of the story in the ritual celebrations, ever enriched by new references to the scriptures of Israel' (above, n. 16).

narrative is heavily dependent on Mark. it means in effect that each of the 'last words' is dependent on single attestation. Moreover. only one is attested by Mark (15.34). Luke's first word has weak support in the textual tradition (23.34).86 his second is part of the unsupported account of a conversation between the three crucified.87 and his third looks like one of the psalm elaborations already noted (where Mark 15.37 has only that 'Jesus let out a great cry'). John's first word is bound up with his otherwise unattested 'beloved disciple' tradition (19.26). his second seems to be a somewhat contrived way of introducing the allusion to Ps. 69.21 (he said it 'in order to fulfil the Scripture' — 19.28). and his third sounds a more triumphant note than any of the other Gospels (19.30).

The uncomfortable conclusion probably has to be that most of the words from the cross are part of the elaboration in the diverse retellings of Jesus' final hours. Had there been words more clearly recalled. experience of the Jesus tradition elsewhere suggests that they would have become a core within the fuller story of Jesus' death and so would have remained stable within the varying retellings of the story. Without such attestation we are pushed by the evidence to the alternative conclusion: that the stable element was the scene itself and the broad structure (attested by variantly by Luke. and still more variantly by John). and that beyond that much of the detail belongs to the category of performance variation.

Of the seven 'last words'. the one with strongest historical claim is certainly the only one attested by — 'My God. my God. why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15.34/Matt. 27.46). The citation of Ps. 22.1 certainly raises suspicions.88 On the other hand. the Greek is clearly an attempted transliteration of The potential embarrassment for Christian apologetics ('the cry of desolation') would surely have been obvious from the first and could have been easily countered by somehow extending the allusion to the confident climax of the psalm.90 And the likelihood that Jesus fell back on familiar words of worship when in extremis (heard by the faithful few who waited near him till

86. It is omitted by p75 B D* W © and early Latin. Syriac. and Coptic versions. but the echo in Acts 7.60 suggests that Luke was aware of the Luke 23.34 tradition. so the textual tradition is puzzling.

87. Brown suggests that Luke has taken the 'Amen' saying from another context and used it here (Death 1001-2).

88. E.g.. Bultmann. History 313; Funk. Five Gospels 125-26; Ludemann. Jesus 108 (a community product and therefore inauthentic; 'This follows conclusively [sic] from the contradiction between the different cries on the cross and the lack of an appropriate eye-witness or tradent').

89. See Pesch. Markusevangelium 2.495. 501; Davies and Allison. Matthew3.624; and further Brown. Death 1051-58.

90. 'He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from him (MT)/me (LXX). but heard when he (MT)/I (LXX) cried to him' (Ps. 22.24).

the end) is hardly to be dismissed out of hand. Nor the likelihood that the words were allowed to fall out in other performance traditions precisely because of their potential embarrassment.91

All in all then, the results are more meagre than we might have hoped for.92 The tradition of Jesus' crucifixion and death, as attested by those who witnessed it, is firm enough in outline.93 But the tradition was evidently formed from the first to bring out scriptural allusions and to give the whole a spiritually edifying character. That was how Jesus' death was remembered from the beginning — as fulfilling scriptural types and as providing a good model of martyr-like piety and concern for others.

g. The Burial of Jesus

Some assume that Jesus' body would have been routinely disposed of by the authorities.94 But the tradition is firm that Jesus was given a proper burial (Mark 15.42-47 pars.), and there are good reasons why its testimony should be respected.95 (1) The tradition of Jesus' burial is one of the oldest pieces of tradition we have (1 Cor. 15.4 — hotietaphe) and, unlike the preceding narrative, no de

91. Cf. Brown, Death 1086-88. J. B. Green, 'Death of Jesus', DJG 146-63, makes a good case for arguing that Luke is not responsible for the quotation of Ps. 31.6 (Luke 23.46) (151-52).

92. The accounts of three hours of darkness (Mark 15.33 pars.), the veil of the sanctuary being rent (Mark 15.38 pars.), the centurion's 'confession' (Mark 15.39; but note Luke 23.47), the earthquake (Matt. 27.51; Gos. Pet. 6.21), and the dead saints being raised (Matt. 27.52-53) are best attributed to dramatic recital and theological elaboration (discussion in Brown, Death 1034-43, 1098-1140, 1143-52, 1160-67, 1192-93).

93. The accounts hardly give an adequate indication of the horror and agony of death by crucifixion, but we can fill out at least some of the details from what we know of crucifixion elsewhere — 'that most cruel and most horrible of punishments' (Cicero) (see, e.g., Hengel, Crucifixion 24-32; G. S. Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995] 14-18; L'egasse, TrialofJesus 88-91). John's account ofthe final phase (John 19.31-37) is refracted through a theological prism (19.36-37), though attributed to an eyewitness (19.35), but both the practice of breaking the legs of a crucified man (to hasten his death) and that of a spear thrust to ensure death are attested for the period (see, e.g., Legasse 161 nn. 112, 113).

94. Crossan is confident that 'Nobody knew what had happened to Jesus' body' {Historical Jesus 394). Behind the Gospel narratives 'lies, at worst, the horror of a body left on the cross as carrion or, at best, a body consigned like others to a "limed pit"' (Birth 555).

95. Nicely summarized in Davies and Allison, Matthew 3.647-48.

96. A point especially emphasized by M. Hengel, 'Das Begräbnis Jesu bei Paulus', in F. Avemarie and H. Lichtenberger, eds., Auferstehung— Resurrection (WUNT 135; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001) 119-83 (here 121, 129-38, 175-76).

tail is drawn from Scripture.97 (2) Jewish law required that the body of an executed criminal should be taken down before nightfall (Deut. 21.22-23); Josephus confirms that this was current practice (War Although the Romans might have preferred to leave the corpse on the cross as a warning to others,98 it is unlikely that they would have disregarded Jewish religious law and custom at such a sensitive time (Passover). (3) There are some reports of permission being given for a crucified victim to be taken down ahead of normal and the skele tal remains of a crucified man discovered at Giv'at ha-Mivtar were buried in a family tomb.100 It is not irrelevant to recall that, according to Mark 6.29, the Baptist's disciples were given permission to take his body after execution and buried it in a tomb. (4) Joseph of Arimathea is a very plausible historical character: he is attested in all four Gospels (Mark 15.43 pars.) and in the Gospel of Peter (2.3-5); when the tendency of the tradition was to shift blame to the Jewish council, the creation ex nihilo of a sympathiser from among their number would be surprising;101 and 'Arimathea', 'a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausible'.102 It would be surprising if Jesus had not won some such support within the higher echelons of Jewish society.103 (5) Similarly the presence of the women at the cross

97. Of the three clauses describing Jesus' death and resurrection in 1 Cor. 15.3-4, only the reference to Jesus' burial (hoti etaphe) lacks the accompanying phrase 'according to the Scriptures'.

98. Hengel, Crucifixion 87-88.

99. 83: 'I have known cases when on the eve of a holiday of this kind, people who have been crucified have been taken down and their bodies delivered to their kinsfolk, because it was thought well to give them burial and allow them the ordinary rites'; Josephus, Life 420: '. . . on my return I saw many prisoners who had been crucified, and recognized three of my acquaintances among them. . . . Titus gave orders immediately that they should be taken down and receive the most careful treatment. Two of them died in the physicians' hands; the third survived'. Brown is not confident on this point (Death 1207-9).

100. See particularly J. Zias and E. Sekeles, 'The Crucified Man from Giv'at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal', IE J 35 (1985) 22-27.

101. Pace Funk: 'probably a Markan creation' (Honest 234). Contrast M. Myllykoski, 'What Happened to the Body of Jesus?' in I. Dunderberg, et al., eds., Fair Play: Diversity and Conflicts in Early Christianity, H. Raisanen FS (Leiden: Brill, 2002) 43-82, who concludes that 'the oral tradition emphasized that Jesus was buried by a respected member of the Sanhedrin, and that his burial was simple but honourable' (82; critique of Crossan 76-81; further bibliography 44 n. 3). John 19.39 also names Nicodemus. Flusser finds that the rabbinic records regarding Nicodemus complement John's picture (Jesus 148-49). But the amount of spices indicated (about 75 lbs.) is extraordinary (cf. John 2.6).

102. Brown, Death 1240.

103. Crossan (Birth 554-55) makes too much of minor differences (typical of varied performance, whether oral or literary) regarding Joseph's status as a member of the council which condemned Jesus (see further above, § 15.3a and n. 81). Ludemann (Jesus 111) is similarly and their involvement in Jesus' burial can be attributed more plausibly to early oral memory than to creative see no reason, therefore, to dissent from Brown's overall conclusion: 'there is nothing in the basic preGospel account of Jesus' burial by Joseph that could not plausibly be deemed historical'.

In short, we can be fairly confident that the tradition of Jesus' final days was already being recalled and reflected on from the very earliest days of communal gatherings of Jesus' followers after Easter 30 CE. The tradition was probably held within a broad structure, but there was evidently flexibility in what might be included within the structure, the performances were subject to the usual variation, and individual episodes were variously elaborated as occasion allowed. The Evangelists' accounts are in effect frozen examples of such performances. In particular, the tradition of Jesus' trial, execution, and burial (the Passion narrative) seems to have been more thoroughly integrated into a single narrative more or less from the first, possibly for sacred recitation within the early followers' worship (at Passover?). It often reflects the scriptural passages drawn in to illuminate the earliest recollections of the events, and gives evidence of the devotional meditation which the retellings both evoked and came to embody. But in character, otherwise, it is similar to the oral tradition identifiable throughout the Gospel tradition and reflects the same traditioning processes. If in the variations of the tradition we can detect the particular interests of individual churches or Evangelists, we can also confidently detect in the stabilities of structure and structural elements the character of the tradition as it was being retold from the beginning.

What then still needs to be clarified are a number of more specific questions: can we gain a clearer insight into why Jesus was executed? and can we say more regarding Jesus' own perception and motivation in the events that transpired?

sceptical but accepts the likelihood that Joseph was the one who undertook the burial, without following through the corollaries (that the place of Jesus' burial would have been known). Acts 13.29 hardly provides adequate basis for an alternative scenario — that Jesus was laid in a tomb by unnamed Jews (G. Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology [London: SCM, 1994] 43-44); more realistic is E. Haenchen's comment, 'In reality Luke has only shortened the account as much as possible' (Acts of the Apostles [Oxford: Blackwell, 1971] 410).

104. Cf. K. E. Corley, 'Women and the Crucifixion and Burial of Jesus. "He was Buried: On the Third Day He Was Raised"', Forum 1 (1998) 181-225; see further below, §18.2a.

105. Death 1241. The archaeological evidence pointing to the traditional site for Jesus' tomb is surprisingly strong — within the present church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a site not brought within the walls of the city till they were extended in 41-43 CE (see further Charlesworth, Jesus 123-25; Legasse, Trial of Jesus 82-87, 102; Murphy-O'Connor, Holy Land 45-48; M. Broshi in Flusser, Jesus 251-57; J. E. Taylor, 'Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence for the Sites of Jesus' Crucifixion and Burial', NTS 44 [1998] 180-203).

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