In Jesus and The Zealots SG Brandon explores the possibility that the Historic Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot.
Jesus and The Zealots considers whether the Messiah of the Christian Religion may have been a member of the Zealots, a Revolutionary Nationalist Jewish Movement agitating against the Roman Occupation of Judea in the 1st Century leading up to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple by the Romans around 70 BCE.
Jesus and The Zealots makes out quite a few good reasons in support of the argument that Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot which can be summarised as:
i) The Historical conditions created by the Roman presence in Judea which led to the rise of the Nationalist Jewish Revolutionary Zealot Movement;
ii) The second reason Brandon contends that Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot is the fact that one of Jesus’ own Disciples was a Zealot;
iii) Jesus’ claim to the Title of Messiah symbolised by his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple incident which can also be viewed as evidence of a Jesus’ Zealot understanding of the role of the Messiah as a Revolutionary which Jesus actually acted out;
iv) The fact that Jesus was Crucified by the Romans for the crime of Sedition is also further evidence that Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot;
v) Last but not least the connection between Jesus and the Zealots is the explanation for the rise of the Pacific Christ that emerged in the Gospels beginning with the 1st Gospel of Mark.
These Gospels came out after the fall of Jerusalem to Rome in 70 BCE which led to the need for the Christian Community in Rome to appease Roman authorities by presenting Jesus and Christianity as non-threatening to the Roman Empire.
Jesus & The Historical Conditions Created By The Roman Occupation Of Judea
The Roman occupation of Judea in the 1st Century led to conflict and frequent clashes between the Romans and the Nation Of Israel that they governed.
Taxation and continous Roman threats to defile the Temple through Religious Practices the Israelites regarded as sacrilegeous produced a rebel movement called the Zealots which conducted a guerilla resistance campaign against the Roman occupation of what the Jews viewed as Yahweh’s sacred land.
According to Brandon, the Zealots were fiercely patriotic and loyal to their Religion i.e. Judaism.
Thus in his own lifetime, Jesus becoming a Revolutionary Zealot would be regarded as an Honourable act showing how much Jesus was committed to his religion and ideals as a pious Jew.
Its important to note that the key belief of the Zealots was that the Messiah would redeem the Nation of Israel from Roman occupation and install a New World Order in which Israel reigned over the whole world.
As such, if it is to be accepted that Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot, then it is important to appreciate that in this time it was a matter of common kowledge and understanding even to Jesus himself that the role of the Messiah was to overthrow Rome Militarily.
Jesus and The Zealots thus suggests that by calling himself the Messiah, Jesus as a Revolutionary Zealot, understood this to mean his role was to achieve the expulsion of Rome from the land of Israel through Military means.
Simon: The Zealot Disciple Of Jesus
Jesus and The Zealots also observes that more evidence for the fact that Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot lies in that the Gospels reveal that Simon, one of Jesus’ Disciples was a Zealot.
The fact that the first Gospel of Mark omits to mention that Simon was a Zealot is to be understood as proof of the fact that at the time the first Gospel was written which was soon after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, it was deemed important to suppress Jesus’ link to the rebellious Zealots so that Christianity would not offend the Roman Empire which would have put the Christian community in Rome at risk since it did not want to be associated with the rebellious Zealot Jewish Movement that had led to the recent Roman destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in 70 BCE in the First Roman-Jewish War.
Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem and the Cleansing of the Temple As Zealot Actions
Before he was Crucified, Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem riding triumphantly on a donkey in order to demonstrate that he was the Messiah foretold in the Torah.
Since Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot, his entry in Jerusalem had to be accompanied by actions that would advance the fullfillment of the Messianic role to overthrow Rome.
Jesus and The Zealots claims that the Cleansing Of The Temple incident was actually an attempted insurrection by Jesus and other Zealots in the City of Jerusalem meant to fullfill the Messianic expectations of the Torah.
In attacking The Temple, it is argued that Jesus as a Revolutionary Zealot struck at the root of the puppet Jewish Priest and Aristocratic class that was used by the Romans to Rule over the Israelites in Judea.
The Temple was the center of power and wealth for this puppet Ruling Class, and thus the Cleansing of The Temple Incident by Jesus as a Revolutionary Zealot is presented as part of a Military effort to fullfill the Messianic expectations of the people that had earlier hailed Jesus as the Messiah when he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey.
The Crucifixion Of Jesus by the Romans As A Revolutionary Zealot For The Crime Of Sedition
Jesus’ attack on the Temple as part of a Zealot rebellion in the City of Jerusalem was a threat to Roman authority in Judea because Jesus and the Zealots through their rebellious actions undermined the authority of the puppet Jewish Ruling Class installed by the Roman Empire as Roman proxies that enabled Rome to control Judea effectively.
The High Priest Class in charge of the Temple together with the reigning Jewish Monarchy were all installed and controlled by Rome. As such, any actions that undermined their authority indirectly threatened Roman control over Judea.
It is for this reason that Jesus was sought out by the Jewish authorities and arrested at night after the Cleansing of the Temple Incident.
Jesus as a Revolutionary Zealot rebel was handed over to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate and crucified for the crime of sedition because Jesus’participation in Zealot activities in Jerusalem was a Political threat to Rome’s control over Judea since it undermined the authority of the Roman proxies installed by Rome to exercise control over Israel.
Viewed from this perspective, Jesus and The Zealots contends that this is a more realistic interpretation of the events in the Gospel which explains why the Romans would carry out the Capital Punishment of Crucifixion because in reality the Crucifixion of Jesus was a matter of neutralising the Zealot threat that threatened Roman control of Judea by proxy.
For this reason, it becomes important to undertand why the Gospels portray Jesus as a Pacificist unconcerned with the pressing and obvious question of the need to free Israel from Roman occupation.
Suppression Of Jesus The Revolutionary Zealot: Emergence Of The Pacific Christ In The 1st Gospel of Mark
According to Jesus and The Zealots, the first Gospel Of Matk appeared soon after the destruction of the Second Roman Temple after 70 BCE.
The recent War between Rome and the Nation Of Israel was a serious concern for the Christians in Rome because they were anxious not be associated with the rebellious Jews that recently put Rome through a costly, vicious and brutal Military campaign because of their religious Nationalism.
As a result, the Gospel of Mark sought to differentiate Jesus and Christianity from the Jewish Nationalism that had led to the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome in the recent Roman-Jewish War.
In order to successfully accomplish this, Jesus’ connection to the Jewish Nationalist Zealot movement was suppressed by presenting the Crucifixion of Jesus not as an Execution for Sedition by Rome because Jesus was a Revolutionary Zealot, but instead the Crucifixion of Jesus is portrayed as the outcome of the evil designs of the puppet Jewish Aristocracy who were offended by the Wisdom of Jesus’ teachings and the popularity he had with the ordinary people.
Most importantly, in putting the words ‘Render unto Ceaser what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s” in Jesus’ mouth, The Gospel Of Mark paints Jesus and Christianity as non-threatening to Rome, something which the early Christians in Rome were very anxious to achieve.
For this reason, the image of the Pacific Christ cames to dominate Christianity.
The idea that Jesus himself was a Revolutionary Zealot seems fairly logical based on actual Historical conditions. The same Historical conditions also explain why after his death it became necessary to suppress Jesus’ links to the Jewish Zealot Nationalist Movement that opposed Rome in the First Roman-Jewish War.
Jesus and The Zealots therefore makes a strong argument that the Jesus of The Gospels bears little resemblance to the Jesus of History who was a Revolutionary Zealot because he was a product of the Historical condition of the Roman Occupation in which he lived.
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