Cultural Background of the Passion Week 

In this episode, Drs. Mikel Del Rosario, Terri Moore, and Darrell Bock discuss the cultural background of the Passion Week, focusing on what it reveals about Jesus, his self-identity, and evidence for the resurrection. 

About The Table Podcast

The Table is a weekly podcast on topics related to God, Christianity, and cultural engagement brought to you by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The show features interviews with guests who are experts on the chosen topic, and each episode is hosted by a member of The Hendricks Center’s team.

Timecodes
01:26
The host and guests set the scene before Passion Week.
02:53
Was Jesus’ Jewish examination a formal trial?
07:36
What does it mean to be The Christ, The Son of The Blessed?
24:10
How was Jesus’ claim viewed by Rome?
26:40
Were there other Messianic claimants?
35:05
What are some of the cultural issues involved that most people miss?
40:40
Why did Pilate send Jesus to Herod?
44:07
What do you think the thief understood about Jesus?
46:33
Cultural sensitivities surrounding burial of Jesus
48:50
The testimony of the women in Second Temple Judaism
55:10
Jesus’ use of authority compared to other uses of authority
Resources

Raised on the Third Day:  Defending the Historicity of the Jesus by W. David Beck and Michael R. Licona  

Transcript

Mikel Del Rosario: 
Welcome to The Table Podcast where we discuss issues of God and culture. I'm Dr. Mikel Del Rosario. I'm the Cultural Engagement Manager here at The Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. Our topic on the show today is the cultural background of the Passion Week. I have two guests via Zoom today. The first guest is Dr. Terri Moore. Terri is an Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at Criswell College and she's also a fellow ThM and PhD grad from DTS. Welcome, Terri. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Hi, good to be here. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
So great to have you on the show. Our second guest also via Zoom is Dr. Darrell Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament at DTS. Great to have you back on the show, Darrell. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
I'm glad to be on The Table for a change. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Darrell is somebody you've seen an awful lot on The Table, and especially when it comes to Jesus topics. I love having him discuss all things Jesus with us. And so, we're just going to dive right into our material today beginning with Jesus' Jewish examination. As I've said before, I can never get away with calling it a trial in front of Darrell, but we'll get to that in a moment. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Let's just set the scene as we're thinking about moving into the Passion Week and moving into Jesus' examination where he's standing before the Jewish leadership. Even skeptical scholars will admit that some kind of meeting had to take place to get Jesus before Pilate and this scene that we read about in Mark 14, in Matthew 26, in Luke 22, it fits the idea that Jesus was involved in a temple controversy, which is where the whole conversation began in Mark. Even E.P. Sanders and Bart Ehrman agreed that Jesus was involved in a temple controversy, but Darrell, how would you respond to the common objection that there are some peculiarities about this meeting that don't seem like a legit Jewish trial, for example, supposedly trials couldn't be held at night or in the midst of cultural holidays, what would you say to that? 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Well, there are a variety of things going on. Most of these rules obviously apply to a trial where, in the normal trial, a verdict is able to be given with an appropriate sanction tied to the verdict. In other words, consequences for the verdict if, I mean, obviously if one's innocent, one's let go, but if one's guilty, one's got to be able to carry out the punishment for the crime. The Jewish leadership, at least in terms of the goal that they were working for, which was to take Jesus to Pilate and have Pilate issue a formal judgment doesn't apply here. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
I prefer describing this as an examination rather than a trial and I also prefer to compare it to kind of what happens with the grand jury. When the prosecution gathers the evidence, it's kind of two steps put together, prosecution gathers the evidence and puts it before a grand jury and the grand jury issues the formal charge that then allows the proceeding to go to trial. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
And so, this is kind of the prosecutors organizing their case and getting ready to take it to Pilate. Here's the other thing that's important to the background. They really need to get this right. The worst thing that could have happened would've been to take Jesus to Pilate, to present their case and Pilate say, "You know what? I don't think you have a case here. I'm not going to issue a judgment. I'm going to let Jesus go." Imagine the public relations result of that exercise if it were to have failed. They really needed to get this right. They needed to put together a charge that Pilate would be responsive to, and to be sensitive to it at that level. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
And so, some of the to and fro that you see in the actual exchange about getting the testimony right and getting the topic that they would pursue right is reflecting this need to be sure that what they get before Pilate will result in some kind of a charge from him. And of course, the charge that they are looking for is they want Rome to be the one who is responsible for Jesus' death, which gives them a buffer on responsibility for what takes place, a buffer, by the way, that still lives in the way this event gets to talked about even today. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Now, there are some people who will cite the Mishnah and some of the legal language in there. Can we backtrack that to the time of Jesus or is that a move that's not really a responsible one to make? 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Well, it's often hard to know, but these traditions tend to be pretty conservative. They don't get changed unless there's something that causes it to change in the interim. My objection is not so much to the way the Mishnah says a trial should be conducted. In fact, there came a point where they weren't conducting trials in the kind of sense they were talking about because they only had religious power, they didn't have any social political power. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
I think these rules are a way of showing the pursuit of justice in the midst of such proceedings. They would've tended to be conservative, I think in nature and preserved. And so, my own sense is is that the actual violations of a formal trial would've been something that would've been around but I think the question here is whether this a formal trial. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
There's also another observation to make and that is exceptions to the rule were allowed in cases of unusual set of circumstances. The unusual set of circumstances they had here is they had to have a hearing in order to get Jesus to Pilate while Pilate was in Jerusalem. There's a time limit. There's a time pressure on what's going on here, which explains both the at night and also the festival time that we're dealing with simultaneously that normally wouldn't allow for this kind of a proceeding to take place, but they're trying to get this done while they can get Pilate to do it and they're hoping to get Pilate to do it during the week that they're there and he's there, so it's a matter of... This sounds like something I do with my office all the time. It's a matter of scheduling. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
I really like your idea of the American grand jury kind of approach, where they're trying to find something that they can take to Pilate. Marcus Borg even agrees that it was probably not a trial. And so, I like that direction that you've proposed. When we get to the actual content now of the examination that Jesus has in front of the high priest in Mark 14, which I did some work on in my dissertation as well, and Darrell, you were such a help in this particular area of my work. The high priest asks Jesus, "Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed?" And I want to transition over to talking to Terri now about this. Terri, what does it mean to be the Christ, the son of the blessed in this culture? 
 
Terri Moore: 
Well, you've got a statement that's then described and explained by the second statement. The high priest is, at this point, a little bit frustrated with Jesus because he's not answering his questions. And so, he gets to the point. Jesus isn't answering his questions. He's not getting the evidence he wants from the other witnesses he's called. He looks at Jesus. He says, "Are you this person that people are saying that you claim to be?" 
 
Terri Moore: 
And so, Christ is connected to Messiah. Those two terms mean the same thing. And so, messianic expectations among Jewish people at this time period were somewhat flexible. You had a lot of different groups that had different expectations, but the core of that was someone in the line of David who was somewhat of an eschatological king. There were some expectations that this person would bring in a new time for Israel, would bring in renewal. 
 
Terri Moore: 
As we know, a lot of people expected that that renewal would bring an end to pagan rule in Judea, but when he says the son of the blessed one, of course, he is not wanting to use the name of God, because that's something you would be on trial for if you had used the name of God. And so, he's basically saying, "Are you the Messiah, the son of God?" And so, those two titles, Messiah and son of God had come to both be known to be referring to the same type of figure. And so, that's what he's asking Jesus, "Are you this figure that we have come to be expecting and looking forward to? Are you claiming to be the one? Are you making that claim?" That's kind of the linchpin. Dr. Bock was talking about how they're wanting to get Jesus to say certain things that would then perk the ear of Pilate. Well, if Jesus says yes to this, that's going to perk Pilate's ear to hear somebody saying that. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Messiah at minimum, but there is this idea of the future eschatological king that people had been waiting for and that kind of ties in with Psalm 110 and how Jesus now responds. Darrell, get your take on this Jesus' answer, "I am," said Jesus so at minimum, yes, but then he adds something else and he says, and you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven or the right hand of power. Well, help us understand some of the Jewish texts surrounding this idea of son of man, Jesus is bringing together some Old Testament stuff, but there's also texts outside the Bible that are coming to play here. Help us understand what's going on. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The question was, are you the Christ, the son of the blessed one? Son of the Blessed One is a circumlocution as Terri said about the way to refer to God without utilizing his name or bringing up the sacredness of the name. He's answered that question and it's important to understand that son of God itself is ambiguous. It can be son of God or son of God. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
At Caesarea Philippi, remember when the disciples are asked, "Who do you say the son of man is or who do you say that I am?" Parallel asking because Jesus is the son of man, we'll get to that in a second. Answer in Mark is you are the Christ. In Luke, it's you are the Christ of God. And then in Matthew, it's you are the Christ, the son of the living God, so bringing in the second title alongside, but he equated with Messiah because Messiah is seen as having a special relationship with God out of 2 Samuel 7 and the Davidic covenant. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The question was about kingship. The perking of the years that was alluded to a while back is about the claim to be king. Now, Rome, the Roman view is, well, we appoint the kings around on here. People don't self-appoint and they certainly don't appoint in a way that doesn't involve us because we believe in law. You follow our law or we'll put you in order. And so, that's the way this is proceeding. But Jesus answers in... Mark says, "I am." The other gospel have said, "You have said so," or roundabout way of saying yes, but not quite in the way that you're asking it is really what that reply is indicating. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
But the trigger that seals the deal is what he says next. He could have just stopped there, said, yes. It probably would've been good enough, but he presses the point and he presses the point by putting together fundamentally two passages, Psalm 110:1, Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a foot stool for your feet," which is a declaration of a shared authority that exists between God and this one who functions as his vice region on earth, the messianic figure. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
By the way, that messianic expectation that Terri was talking about comes from text, not just Old Testament text, but from extra biblical text, the Second Temple period, Psalms of Solomon 17 and 18, which says Messiah's going to do two things, he's going to conquer the nations but he's also going to purge and establish righteousness in Israel. Renewal, as she said, alongside this conquering of the nations, and then a section of 1 Enoch 37-71 called the Similitudes, which has this figure of the son of man. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The son of man doesn't come from Psalm 110:1, it comes from Daniel 7:13-14. The son of man is simply an idiom that means a human being like son of David, son of Jane, Jane's son, David's son, a human son. That's what son of man means in its basic meaning, but this son of man is doing something that humans don't normally do and that is riding the clouds. If you're from Texas, we understand rodeos. This is someone riding the clouds. It's not a normal thing. In the Old Testament, only God rides the clouds. This is a human being doing God stuff and getting authority from the ancient of days, which would picture God. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Basically what Jesus is saying to the audience is I'm the defendant here and I'm on trial. You can do to me whatever you want, but I'm here to tell you that God's going to vindicate me one day. I will go to his right hand and I will exercise judgment authority over you one day. I may be the defendant now, but I'm not going to be the defendant later. You will be the defendants later. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
They didn't like that answer for two reasons. One, the authority that Jesus was claiming for himself, and second, the idea that Jesus could park next to God and share his presence and his authority and the exercise of his judgment, et cetera, all that was potentially offensive to the Jewish audience. And so, the reaction is, at least as Mark portrays it is, the high priest rips his clothes, says, "We've heard the blasphemy, what shall we do?" 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Now, the question in the background is an additional one, which is did the Jews actually contemplate the possibility that someone could conceivably sit with God in heaven, because what Jesus is doing is you may do with me what you want, but God's going to vindicate me and you'll be able to write me later at www.righthandofgod.com. And so, what do we do with this claim? Can someone sit and park with God in heaven? It'd be one thing to be in God's presence in heaven to worship him in heaven, it's another thing to sit with him in heaven and share his authority. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Actually, there are texts in the Second Temple Jewish period that do speak to this both pro and con. Some people contemplating the possibility, other people denying that it was possible. The protext include Exagoge of Ezekiel line 67 to 82 in which Moses has a dream and the dream is of being invited to sit on the thrones of heaven. Now, in the Old Testament, there's only one verse where thrones is plural in heaven, and that's Daniel 7, the son of man text, so that's interesting. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Moses doesn't understand the dream so he goes to his dream interpreter, Jethro, who does understand these things. Basically, Jethro says, "This is the kind of authority you're going to wield through the plague." It's a reflective portrayal of Moses' authority during the Exodus when the plagues are being exercised and it is seen as a Midrash or an interpretation of Exodus 7:1, which says, "I will make you god to Pharaoh," when Moses is being called to go to Pharaoh and say, "Let my people go." 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The English translations often waffle here by saying, "I will make you like god to Pharaoh," but in the Hebrew, there's no qualifier like. I will make you god to Pharaoh. What it's saying is when you speak, you are so representative of where God is coming from that it's as good as God speaking. That's why you get the like and the translation because they don't want people to confuse Moses with being God, but actually, the point is your association with God's revelation is so direct that you represent God and you can be pictured as being seated with God in heaven. That's a yes vote, but it's a very qualified yes. It's a rhetorical yes, if you will. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
In 1 Enoch, you get a son of man who's seated with God in heaven who helps exercise judgment prerogatives and authority, et cetera. He is this human being who exercises divine-like authority. That's the portrait you get out of 1 Enoch. That's also a yes vote. Now, there are two no votes in the Jewish materials. One of them is from Rabbi Akiva who's a second century AD rabbi. It's a little later, but it shows the attitude. That is when Akiva posits that David might be able to sit with God in heaven, the sages, and that's usually the wise group who has the right answer, say to him, "How long will you profane the shekhinah?" Profaning is taking that which is sacred and defiling it in one way or another. How long will you profane the shekhinah? This is a charge about this idea is something that shouldn't be expressed. That's a no vote. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Then the other no vote comes from 3 Enoch. 3 Enoch, Enoch is being given a tour of heaven by an angel named Metatron. Now, this is not a Ninja Turtle, but so that's- 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Or a Transformer. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Yeah, a Transformer that's what- 
 
Darrell Bock: 
... a Transformer whatever. This is how the four and five-year-olds can appreciate this podcast. He's giving a tour of heaven and in the midst of the tour, he refers to himself as the lesser Yahweh. I like to make the comparison with a Whopper and then there's the Whopper Junior. Metatron's not the Whopper Junior in heaven. The way we know this is the way God responds to that self-description by Metatron is to invite him in and punish him for having the suggestion that he could even compare himself in some way to Yahweh, so that's a negative vote. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The point is there were, in some segments of Judaism, the contemplation of the possibility that maybe someone had enough power, authority or connection of God to be associated with being seated with him in heaven, but there were other people who said no way. Now, we have Sadducees in the audience. We're talking about background here. We have Sadducees in the audience and the Sadducees don't like these additional traditions. In fact, they are hesitant on even the concept of angels and resurrection. The fact that this council that's been gathered together is predominantly Sadduceean means they're more likely to have a no vote in this conversation that might be going on in Judaism than a yes vote. But even Jews could contemplate, well, maybe David, maybe the son of man to come, maybe that could be, maybe a high angelic figure perhaps, but not a Galilean street preacher- 
 
Terri Moore: 
Yeah, not this guy from Galilee. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
[crosstalk 00:21:13] Jesus. That just doesn't compute at all. They said no and now the tension of the event is set before us that runs through the rest of the story. That is there are two options for what's going on as Jesus goes to the cross, he's claiming exaltation and a vindication to come from God that shows who he is or he is blaspheming. Those are the only two options on the table. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
There's no middle option that says, "Oh, he's a religious great who just inspires us," something like that. That option is off the table, but what they do is they take the religious charge, blasphemy, translate it into a political charge. He claimed to be a king that Rome didn't appoint and then he said, "We've got our evidence. It's self-confessed," which is even more interesting. The testimony that sends Jesus to the cross is the testimony Jesus himself gives, which shows how committed Jesus was to going to the cross. With that in place, they put together their dossier and their case. They gather their folders and they say, "It's time to see Pilate." With that, I can hand it off back to you because Terri's coming in in a major way now. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, if Darrell has what your appetite to dive into this scene, he has an amazing work called Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism. We'll link to that in the show notes so that you can check that out. I love all the different pieces that come together. It's so deep and so profound to look into, especially I was struck by the 1 Enoch connections where those who see the son of man are the ones who are judged. It's kind of like you're telling us we, the representatives of God on earth, that you're going to judge us. I mean, it's that the offense that became blasphemy, Darrell, there are a couple of options there. What do you think about the... 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The offense is twofold, actually. One it's the claim to be able to share the presence of God who gets to sit with God in heaven, which for someone like a Sadducee would be inconceivable. Then secondly, it's the idea that you're putting the so-called representatives of God on trial and saying you're subject to God, you're not supposed to speak ill of your leaders that comes out of Exodus, although there's a twofold religious violation here that's triggered by Jesus' response. If, this is the big if, he's not who he claims to be. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Right. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
That's right. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Big gamble. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, let's talk about the transition now into Jesus before Pilate. Darrell alluded to this a little bit, but I wonder, Terri, if you can unpack it a little more. How did the Jewish leadership translate this claim of Jesus being this apocalyptic son of man with a role in the judgment, a religious claim, how did they translate that into something Rome would care at all about? 
 
Terri Moore: 
Very carefully, right? I often compare it to when I am maybe making an appeal to my health insurance. If they denied one of my claims and I'm appealing something to my health insurance, I use really careful words. I use lawyer words. I use things like bad faith and due diligence and those types of words, because I want them to trigger things that are going to make them go, "Oh, I better pay attention and maybe pay attention to this case." 
 
Terri Moore: 
And so, they kind of leave out the more details of their religious dispute with what Jesus is saying. Some of the things that make them tear their clothes like who the son of man is and why that's important to them. They don't mention that. They focus, laser-focus in on he claimed to be king of the Jews and that's basically what they present, because they know that that's what Pilate is going to care about. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Here's a guy who's claiming to be king of the Jews and they know that Pilate has past. Pilate and most of the Roman governors in Judea already have a history of taking anyone who claim to be king of the Jews and either executing them, putting them in jail, or otherwise defeating them in battle, because most others that had claimed to be king of the Jews had a band of armed men behind them. And so, they focused in on that claim. They kind of translated it for Pilate. They said, "Yeah, he is claiming to be Christ, king of the Jews," and presented him that way. It was very simple in that way. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
When we move to Jesus' Roman examination, these group of Jewish leaders, they bring him to Pilate, and in Luke 23, we read that they're saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar. He claims to be Messiah, a king." Now, had others recently made claims like this to be Messiah, to be king of the Jews. How are they different from Jesus? 
 
Terri Moore: 
There's several things to talk about there. Always follow the money. They even brought in the taxes issue. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Yes. 
 
Terri Moore: 
He's telling people not to pay their taxes. That just brings in a whole other element to it if you tell Pilate that. There were a few others that Josephus actually tells us about. And so, probably since, especially since 86. After Herod the Great died, his kingdom was split between several of his sons. The son that took over Judea, Jerusalem, and that area was particularly, let's say, particularly like his father Herod the Great and cruel and not a great ruler and actually bad enough that Rome was like, "You can't do this anymore. We're not going to let you stay in charge." That's when Rome took over Jerusalem, Judea and sent in their own governors, what we would call governors, they then call prefects. And so, that's how we get a Pilate as prefect. 
 
Terri Moore: 
And so, from that time period, there was just a lot of unrest and a lot of Jewish groups that were saying, "We don't like the idea of direct Roman rule. We don't like a Roman prefect in charge of us. We don't like Roman soldiers in our land." And so, you would have what I call popup messiahs. A guy would pop up and he would say, "Hey, I think I'm Messiah." And 50 or a hundred men would join his band of merry men and try to fight the Roman soldiers there and whoever was prefect at the time would either fight them, meet them in battle and the one claiming to be Messiah would be killed in battle or arrested and executed, crucified. That would kind of be the end of it. 
 
Terri Moore: 
The obvious difference is Jesus' disciples were not fighting Rome militarily. Jesus never claimed to be trying to raise an army and that was never part of his mission or part of anything he was doing in Galilee or Jerusalem. That would be key and Pilate could tell that. Pilate could tell the difference. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
I love how Jesus makes that if then statement. He says, "If my kingdom were of this world, then my followers would be fighting you right now." 
 
Terri Moore: 
Yes. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
But it's not. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Nobody was fighting. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Hence, there's not a band of soldiers trying to take you down right now. But Darrell help us understand if the Messiah or the future Davidic king, if the idea was that he would restore the kingdom of Israel, was that the threat to Rome? Could that be seen as a kind of treason to threaten the emperor like that? 
 
Darrell Bock: 
I mean, Jesus is sent to the cross because he is judged to be guilty of sedition, claiming to be a king that Rome did not appoint. I mean, Pilate had a variety of responsibilities. He was to keep the peace. He was to collect the taxes. He was to look after Caesar's interests in the area, and then he was to appoint the high priest every year. This actually touches in one way or another, all four of those responsibilities. And so, the pressure that we see the Jewish leadership pushing Pilate to exercise is a pressure that says, "You're looking after Caesar's interests. You're here to keep the peace. This guy is disruptive. He's claiming to be a king that Caesar didn't appoint." Now, this is an outright lie. "He tells us not to pay our taxes." That isn't what Jesus actually did. And you appoint Caiaphas to help you in this area and Caiaphas almost for sure was in the room, bringing Jesus to Pilate. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
All four of these areas are being touched and the issue is sedition and whether or not Pilate is going to basically do his job. That's the way it's framed. Terri said earlier, "This is carefully framed." Yeah, it is. It's framed all around everything that Pilate's supposed to be about. Now, from Pilate's perspective, this is important to think through. Pilate's hesitant initially. Why would he be hesitant? Well, he would be hesitant because he sees this Galilean street preacher in front of him. There's no army. Now, he doesn't have any lieutenants or lieutenant colonels around him, any generals around him, anything like that. There are no weapons involved. I mean, he's got the 12, the 12 might be nicknamed fisherman and co, and so, he's got that group around him and Pilate sees no real threat. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
This is going to challenge the power? I mean, do I really have to waste my time with this? My guess is that that's initially where he is coming from and it's only the pressure that they put on him as the leadership and as the representative of the groups that he is trusting that caused him to respond in the way he does. I like to tell people, Pilate decided to dance with the date that he brought to the party. Caiaphas is someone he's appointed every year as high priest, will continue to appoint him after Jesus is crucified. This is someone he's used to working with, so he's got this newbie in front of him on the one hand, or he is got Caiaphas who he's trusted in this area for years already, who he continues to trust. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
And so, he makes the decision that he makes and then the view of Roman justice coming out of this is pretty interesting, because in effect, Pilate has said, "He's not guilty of the crime you're charging him with. I think he's innocent." But the sense of Roman justice you get coming out of this scene is, "Well, I think you're innocent, but I'm going to crucify you anyway," to which the response is who would want a justice system like that? This is a critique of Rome in the midst of the passage about the injustice of Jesus' death. Some scholars, liberals will say, "Well, Rome is let off the hook. It's the Jewish leadership that's made to be the bad guys," but everyone's a bad guy just for different reasons. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
He had a balancing act to think about there. I mean, whether or not they cared about the religious side, there was the crowd as well. There was a time they had a soldier executed for burning some religious texts. Not that they cared anything about the religious texts, they just didn't want the uproar from the crowd. Sometimes things like that could happen. Now, Terri, you've done some... Go, Darrell. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Had they brought a religious charge to Pilate, he's guilty of blasphemy, Pilate would've said, "Well, that's interesting. I could care less." 
 
Terri Moore: 
[crosstalk 00:34:05] 
 
Darrell Bock: 
That's why they didn't go that route. Blasphemy to the Jewish God for a Roman ruler meant nothing. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Nope. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Right. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Couldn't care less. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
You can't go there. That's why you get the shift in charge and of course, they're dealing with something that in terms of claim is true. He claimed to be the king of the Jews. I mean, he marched into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Here's what, evidence, piece of evidence, anyone. He did that, but the issue is we're back to where we were, which is, it's a problem. It's blasphemy. It's sedition, but only if his claim is not true. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
That's right. Now, Terri, you've done some work on Roman trials for non-citizens. We've talked about a lot of cultural things here, but what's a cultural piece in this scene that most people tend to miss when we read it. 
 
Terri Moore: 
One thing that I've looked at is if a citizen came to trial before Pilate, the rules that he had to follow and the things that he had to do, things were a lot more tighter. He would've had procedures he had to follow, there were limitations. Of course, he couldn't have crucified a citizen and he would've had more rules regarding evidence and procedures and then of course the citizen could have always appealed any decision that he made. Now, of course, Jesus is not a Roman citizen, so he is not a citizen of Rome. Later in the New Testament, Paul is a Roman citizen and so, you see him using that in many of his trials. 
 
Terri Moore: 
With a non-citizen in front of him, Pilate still follows certain procedures. He hears the evidence from Caiaphas. The trial seems to be somewhat public. There's a crowd. There's Caiaphas, there's other people. He does investigate the evidence. He asks Jesus questions. He interrogates him a bit. But other than that, Pilate has options. He's the governor. He's the Roman governor. I mean, he is, if you're thinking about who's the top dog in this area of the world right now, it's Pilate. He can do with this person what he wants to do. There's some interactions with Caiaphas, but the choice is his. I think that's why we see him having a little back and forth and the things that we've discussed. He's clearly looking at Jesus going... He looks at Jesus and says, "You're a threat to Caiaphas and the religious leaders. You're not a threat to me in any real sense of the word." 
 
Terri Moore: 
He recognizes that Jesus is not a threat to Roman power. Jesus was a threat to the religious leaders. I think Pilate saw the game that they were playing, but what we don't recognize about Pilate oftentimes is that while he, in that region, was the top dog, in the world of Roman power, he wasn't the top dog because he was, we call it the equestrian rank. He wasn't a Senator. He was kind of a step down. 
 
Terri Moore: 
And so, to retain his power, he wanted the people above him in Rome, so Caesar or other senators to be impressed with how he was running things in Judea. He's walking a tight rope of sorts. If he lets things get out of hand in Jerusalem and that gets back to Rome, then he loses his position, he did eventually lose his position and get called back to Rome because he got too violent. And so, if he lets that happen here with Jesus and Caiaphas gets mad and sends a letter back to the emperor, then he's lost his position. He's walking a tight rope in a really difficult position. And so, that's why I think you see him waffling. That's why I think you see him recognizing Jesus is innocent, but playing to the religious leaders and playing to the crowd to kind of keep things calm. There's a lot of realities going on for him. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, there's a lot of political stuff in the background as well not just Jewish cultural sensitivities, but also the political scene that the intrigue that's going on. Sounds like a movie. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
It would make a good movie. 
 
Terri Moore: 
It would. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Yet this is never included in these Jesus movies that get made. Even one of the best ones that I've seen, The Passion of the Christ had a little bit of that in there, but what an ancient courtroom drama kind of a feel would be amazing to look into all the political intrigue that went on there. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Then Pilate sends to Jesus to Herod Antipas. You mentioned earlier, he's one of the kids of the King Herod, Herod the Great, Herod number one, the one we hear about during Christmas, he tried to kill Jesus when he was a baby, but this Herod was the guy who killed John the Baptist. And so, you've mentioned a little bit about his relationship with the Jewish leadership. Why would he send Jesus off to Herod? 
 
Terri Moore: 
I kind of think it's the same issue. I think Pilate is going, "Oh, well, Herod's here. Maybe I can get him to make the decision and then I don't have to deal with this." Herod was in charge of Galilee and that's when he hears Jesus is from Galilee, well, that's his jurisdiction. Let him make that decision. If he can get Herod to make that decision, then it's off his hands and he didn't have to deal with it anymore. I think that's probably what was in Pilate's mind when he sent him to Herod. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Pilate had the right to try Jesus himself, but he could take the case off his hands, like you said, by giving him over to Herod Antipas to try. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Didn't work. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Let's move now to the crucifixion. I know there's a lot more we could go into with these cultural backgrounds, but we're right back to the king of the Jews again, because when Jesus is crucified over his head, there is the sign that says, this is the king of the Jews. Now, what did that mean to Romans? What did that mean? Was it different what it meant to Jews? I mean, obviously it was a warning, but how did the Romans see that? 
 
Terri Moore: 
Right. I think the Romans, especially this soldiers, they saw that mockingly. Also, to have it as the sign above the cross is this is what we do to people who claim to be the king. And so, when we're going to put this sign over your head, if you think you're the king of the Jews instead of Caesar being the king of everyone, this is what we do to kings. If you think that's who you are, then this is what we do. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Just like crucifixion served not only as punishment for the person being crucified, crucifixion was also warning to anyone else who thought you might want to try this, here's what would happen to you. Crucifixion was obviously cruel and an awful punishment, but deterrent. And also, a show of might like we can do whatever we want. We can do whatever we want in our territory. We can do whatever we want in your territory and your capital city and your sacred place. We are still in charge. 
 
Terri Moore: 
That came in a lot of, Darrell was talking about Pilate appointed the high priest. Pilate also made the high priest come and ask him for their vestments that they wore for every festival, their clothing. He kept their clothing. And so, they would have to come and ask him for that. Every time they had any sort of festival or thing that they had to wear, the appropriate clothing for the high priesthood, he kept that as all the prefects did. All of this is a power play. We are Rome. You may think that you're in charge, but you're not. We can do whatever we want in your sacred places. We can take your money. We can take your farm. We can take your life. We can take your dignity. You have no king, but Rome. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
This is a warning. There's other people being crucified and they don't have king of the Jews. They have other things that they were charged with and so, they don't have that sign, but Darrell, we think about the two people who are crucified with Jesus. One of them was a thief who said to Jesus, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Now, as a Jewish person who sees that sign on the cross, what is he thinking about when Jesus comes into his kingdom? How much did he understand do you think to say something like that to Jesus on the cross? 
 
Darrell Bock: 
To be honest, I'm not sure how much I can understand someone hanging on a cross next to Jesus in that time, but probably, if he has a normal Jewish expectation, he's expecting that in the end, when the judgment comes and the righteous are vindicated, he's asking Jesus to accept him in among the righteous vindication at the end. That Jesus reply, which says, "Today, you'll be with me in paradise," is a double surprise. One, that there is a kingdom that is going to be experienced in the near term. And two, that's even going to happen immediately, that there is a sense of presence that's going on. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
There's this recognition which actually also relates to the resurrection interestingly enough. I tell people, if Christianity had been built strictly off of Judaism without any historical intervention, then you could have preached Jesus as being raised at the end of history and running the kingdom when the kingdom comes at the end. That would've been the very Jewish way to do it. But you have a Jesus who's raised in the midst of history three days after his death. What creates, and this language comes from variety of people like Tom Wright and Larry Hurtado, what creates the mutation in the resurrection belief that says, "We're going to get a resurrection in the midst of history even though the mass resurrection of people comes at the end." 
 
Darrell Bock: 
What created that adjustment and what Christians will argue is, well, is the events tied to Jesus, he was raised on the third day. Well, this idea that today, you'll be with me in paradise is another signal that this transition between death, out of death, into life, into eternal life really, is something that happens in the midst of this history even though there's steps of it that are to be completed later. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. Well, we could go into this for quite some time, but I want to get to the empty tomb here in a moment, but before we go there, Darrell, briefly, if you could talk to us about some of the cultural sensitivities surrounding burial in a tomb versus letting Jesus' body be thrown into a pit like so many other crucified bodies. Talk to us a little bit. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Some scholars just say, "Well, we actually don't know where Jesus was buried and his body was left to rot or whatever." Actually, the description that we get of Jesus being buried in a family tomb for Joseph of Arimathea who's not a family member, this Jewish Messianic teaching, which says that if someone accused of a felony and executed for a felony cannot be buried in a family tomb. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
This fits the cultural background, which is why, remember, I don't know, this is now more than a decade ago. There was this dispute about whether Jesus' family tomb moved had been found and whether the ossuary bounds of Jesus might be there as a way of undercutting the idea that there was a [inaudible 00:47:19] and that doesn't work at least with the testimony of the sources that we have, because Jesus was never buried in a family too. He was never put next to James or perhaps a better way to say it is James was never put next to him. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
If there's an empty tomb, there's no ossuary that Jesus' bones were ever put in because he was raised in the dead. And so, you've got a little attendance problem, I'll just put it that way. That's what's going on. But anyway, that's the background is that a felon would not be buried in a family tomb and that's exactly what we see. Joseph of Arimathea takes care of the body out of the goodness and kindness of his heart and places him in a tomb that he provides. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, as I say, it's Friday, but Sundays are coming. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
That's right. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Super early in the morning, as I've said on another show, the women got up super duper early in the morning, but what they didn't know is that Jesus already got up earlier than them. I want to talk to you Terri, about these women who went to the empty tomb, they were the first to discover the empty tomb, but in John 24, we read that when the women told the disciples what they saw, it says, they did not believe the women because their words seem to them like nonsense. Then Peter went to go check it out himself. What did most Jewish men think about the testimony of women in this context? 
 
Terri Moore: 
Right. I mean, from what we can tell, women's testimony was not valued very highly. It seems like maybe for certain things like I guess things that women would be experts on, if it was experts on women's purity or other things that were seen as the realm of women, they might be called upon as witnesses or their testimony might be more valued, but in general, as sad as it is to say, the testimony of women was not seen as valuable or as reliable as the testimony of men. That kind of fits the context there. And so, certainly, what they were saying probably seemed outlandish too, whether it had been men or women, I think Peter would've been like, "What are you talking about?" But I think the fact that they were women certainly didn't help. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
He went to go check it out himself and then when he there, he was trying to figure out what might have happened. The women just told you what happened. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Right. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
But Darrell, when some Christian apologists talk about the women witnesses, they make the point that the testimony of women wasn't well-respected in the Jewish culture like Terri just said, but a few of them have said that women couldn't testify in court at all. Now, is that true? Talk to us a little bit about how- 
 
Darrell Bock: 
There are a couple of... Generally speaking, it's true, but there are a couple of exceptions in particular related to court cases that involve sexual assault, a woman's testimony could be accepted. The identification of a body of a family member. Testimony of a woman could be used to identify someone who otherwise might go unidentified, that kind of thing. But it was very much the exception rather than the rule. That brings up the whole idea of who would create a story for an event that is unpopular, the idea of resurrection. Only Pharisees believed in a bodily resurrection. Sadducees didn't believe it. The Greeks didn't believe it. They believed in the mortality of the soul if they thought that there was an afterlife at all. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
I tell people, imagine this in your mind, you're in the meeting on Saturday after the crucifixion and you're having the remnant meeting, the people who are left, and they're saying, "How do we keep hope alive because our Messiah has been crucified?" Someone raised their hand and say, "I have a great idea. Let's propose that Jesus raised in the dead and let's put forward as our best witnesses for this, a group of women who went to the tomb and found it empty." I've got an unpopular idea being witnessed to by people who generally culturally don't count as witnesses. That's how we're going to sell this difficult idea to the world and keep hope alive, not happening. It's not happening. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
It shows that the event doesn't give the signs of being created. The women are in the event and the empty team is in the event because something happened that caused the women to see the tomb. Luke says when the report of the women came to the leaders that they thought they were telling a fable, that they were... I tease people that we had the creation of a new disease on this day in the minds of the 12 and that is post crucifixion syndrome, PCS, which basically is you're mourning, it's been a couple of tough days, you want something good to happen so you've conjured up in your mind that this has taken place and we don't believe you. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Now, the other point I like to make is the 12, or at least the remainder of the 12, the 11 were acting in very modernist terms in terms of this proposal as well. And so, they were doubting, which is another indication this would be unlikely to be created because this makes your leaders look pretty bad. They don't believe that the son of God is raised from the dead. Put that together in your thinking. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
All of this is pointing to the fact that the empty tomb in the resurrection looks like it's the real deal and that that's the best explanation, which brings us back to the question of the arc we raised earlier, which is that Jesus is only guilty of sedition and his claim is only blasphemy if what he is claiming is not true. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The empty tomb is God's vote in that dispute. And now, I'm going to put a real tricky math question in front of you. You have two options in front of you, exaltation and blasphemy. The tomb goes empty and that's God's vote. The best I can tell, two minus one equals one. You take two options, you take one off the table, you only got one option left, that option's exaltation and that's exactly what we see in the resurrection story. I tell people that Easter is important not just because it shows that there's life after death, which is what we tend to focus on on Easter. Easter's important because it is the vindication of Jesus and who he claims to be so he can do everything that is promised that he will do as a result and that really is the story of Easter. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. I love that. Now, for those of you who are watching or listening to this, you can read more about this in a note that Darrell wrote a note on women as witnesses and the empty tomb resurrection accounts in a book called Raised on the Third Day, which are a series of essays in honor of Gary Habermas. We'll put a link to that in the show notes for you. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Now, Terri, I did my dissertation work on Jesus' claims to possess divine authority and how he claimed possessed authority on earth to forgive sins in Mark 2 and in heaven to judge sins in Mark 14, which I say is a merism for all of reality. He's claiming total authority here, but I remember you spoke at DTS Chapel on how Jesus gave us a counter-cultural example of how he used authority in a way that was serving other people. Unpack that idea for us. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Right. If I can recall, I was looking at Mark 10:40-45 and he's talking to the disciples and he specifically says, I don't think I can quote it verbatim, but he's saying, look at the Gentile rulers and he says, let's compare how they rule. And so, what I did with that was then I said, okay, well, let's look in Mark and let's see are there any Gentile rulers in Mark? And there are two, Herod Antipas and Pilate. And there are two instances in Mark where you see them ruling. Both of those are one is Pilate in the trial of Jesus and the other is Herod Antipas when he executes John the Baptist. 
 
Terri Moore: 
In both of those instances, you have these two very powerful men and they clearly know that the man in front of them is innocent, not deserving of execution. Both of them clearly choose to preserve their own power, position, status over any sense of integrity or justice. They use their influence for their own selves rather than using the power or influence that they have to serve the people underneath them, which would be the men standing in front of them who are about to die. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Then right after that, Jesus says, "Not so among you." We are called to serve like the son of man who came to serve and not be served. I found that just really powerful to look at that and then compare that to the only... He says no, you don't want to be like the Gentile rulers that in the community that I am creating that basically those of you who are going to lead it and start it and be the ones who are going to start this community, that your call is to be servants and not be like these Gentile rulers and then you had these two examples. 
 
Terri Moore: 
And so, that the whole point is to serve and not use whatever you have just to get more power for yourself or get more influence for yourself, that your influence is to be to help those who need it. The ones who are right in front of you who need help. Pilate and Herod Antipas are these perfect foils of who we're not supposed to be. The stories of Pilate, we always look at the trial of Jesus and we should look at the trial of Jesus and really focus on the Easter story and Jesus as the character, but I think it's okay then to go and look at other characters like Pilate and go, what's his motivation and what's he doing in that story and the selfishness and the self-preservation of Pilate in that story and Herod Antipas and the story in Mark and then in Luke also, when you add the other trial. It's shocking to be the most powerful people in the stories and all they're concerned about is self-preservation. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, that's awesome to think about. If you're listening or watching to this, if you want to hear more about this, you can go to DTS Voice and search for a presentation. It's called, But It is Not so Among You: Jesus and Power in Mark's Gospel. We'll drop a link on the DTS Voice page for this episode so that you can check it out as well. Well, Darrell, as we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts on how this understanding the Jewish culture, the cultural background of this whole Passion Week can help us better engage with the Easter celebration this Easter time? 
 
Darrell Bock: 
The background shows what's at stake and we've talked about what's at stake. It's really a choice. The judgment that's the event triggers are two options, blasphemy on the one hand, and exaltation on the other. It's like two trains on a single train track heading in opposite directions. When they collide, the collision results in a resurrection, which removes the idea that blasphemy is present and makes clear that God is vindicated. It's God who raises Jesus from the dead and brings him to his right hand as he predicted in Psalm 110, gives him the authority of the son of man and one day he will return riding on the clouds, exercising judgment authority, because we're all accountable to the living God. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
Ultimately, Easter is about that. Easter is out the idea there is a life after death. There is a vindicated Jesus. There is an accountability that we have to God that we all must face up to one day, whether we recognize it or not, the issue then won't be what our perception of reality is. The issue then will be the real God who sits before us and ask what have you done? That's an important part and what Christians offer on that day is a hope, a hope of restoration, a hope of life out of death, a hope to a new life that Christ makes possible because he is who he claimed to be and God showed who he was by the events of that last week. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
That's awesome. It's amazing to think about that and it never gets old to just come back to it every Easter time, and in fact, every day, we should be reminded of just who Jesus is and how much he means to us and what God has provided through him. We thank you so much for joining us today. Darrell, thanks for being here. 
 
Darrell Bock: 
My pleasure. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
And thank you, Terri, for joining us as well. 
 
Terri Moore: 
Thanks a lot. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
We thank you for joining us here on The Table Podcast today. I'm Dr. Mikel Del Rosario and we hope that you'll join us again next time on The Table as we discuss issues of God and culture. 

Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary's Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, writes for the Christianity Today's Places and Space series, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College, Chosen People Ministries, the Institute for Global Engagement, and Christians in Public Service (CIPS). His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.
Mikel Del Rosario
Mikel Del Rosario (ThM, 2016; PhD, 2022) is Associate Professor of Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute. While at DTS, he served as project manager for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center, producing and hosting The Table podcast. You can find him online at ApologeticsGuy.com, the Apologetics Guy YouTube channel, and The Apologetics Guy Show podcast.
Terri Moore
Dr. Terri Moore holds a B.S. from Mississippi College and a Th.M. and Ph.D. in New Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary. She has served as adjunct professor in the NT department of Dallas Seminary since 2010 and is currently adjunct faculty at Criswell College and Dallas Baptist University. Her new book, The Mysteries, Resurrection, and 1 Corinthians 15, will be available soon from Fortress Academic/Lexington Press. In addition to researching and teaching the NT, Dr. Moore enjoys traveling and other adventures with her husband, Darren, and their three children, Jacob, Stella, and Alex.
Contributors
Darrell L. Bock
Mikel Del Rosario
Terri Moore
Details
April 12, 2022
Backgrounds, Easter, history, Holy Week, Resurrection
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