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Apostle Paul's Missionary Journey

Deist Critique of the Gospel of Mark

By Lewis Loflin

In Mark 12:28-34 (NIV) Jesus was asked, What is the greatest commandment?" by one of the "teachers of the Law."

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

(Also Deut. 6:5) This created a lot of problems for Christians in that Jesus says God is "one" that endangers the later Trinity and the exchange was friendly and not confrontational as much of the rest of Mark and the violently anti-Jewish Matthew, Luke, and John.

While the Catholic Church says in the New American Bible that Matthew was based on Mark we have this same story completely rewritten in Matthew 22:34-40,

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

This again is the words of Paul and not Jesus - Paul claims love fulfills the Law. (Romans 13:8)

If that isn't troubling enough the phrase "God is one" while still surviving in the Kings James Version and New International Version was completely edited out in Mark and changed to "God is Lord alone" by Catholics. And the Catholics also changed this as well in Deuteronomy 6:5. These phrases clearly mean differing things.

How did we go from monotheism with it's single unitary god that has no material form and transcends nature to a Trinitarian God that exists in three separate but "co-equal" pieces inhabiting matter (pantheism) and having a "Son" that walks around "in the flesh"?

The Church will tell this is great mystery and "you my friend have to take our word for it" - our authority like that of the New Testament authors derives from the Holy Spirit an invisible spirit guide that only communicates with us - a entity that doesn't even exist in the Old Testament.

Now we address the split from the official Church who claim Jesus was "flesh" and the Gnostics (heretics) who claim Jesus was a "Spirit" in the likeness of a man. Paul suggests the latter in his "law of the Spirit" that overthrew the Law of the God of Judaism in Romans 8:3,

God did (this) by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man...

How did we go from Jesus a pretender to the Jewish throne who would drive out the pagan Romans and establish an earthly kingdom based on God's Law to becoming a cosmic salvation deity equal to God whose "kingdom" is "not of this world" and determined to overthrow God's Commandments?

Hellenism is no more Jewish than Secular Humanism is Christian. Both of the former are the products and human philosophy and inspiration while the latter are products of revealed religion or the claim that certain selected individuals have direct communication through/with and/or guidance of spirits, angels, or gods. I reject the authority of such claims but acknowledge its possibility.

With the Old Testament Christians also claim the authority of the Jewish God as well, but deny it's literal meaning - instead they claim completely new meanings based not on the written "Word of God" but again from "guidance" of the invisible Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit doesn't appear anywhere outside the New Testament except in the "Apocrypha" (Greek meaning hidden) that was removed by Protestants. This includes 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Song of Songs, Tobit, and in particular Wisdom.

These date from the Hellenist' period after the death of Alexander to the 1st Century A.D. Not so oddly the Catholic New American Bible in the introduction to Wisdom notes this as, "a preparation for the fuller teachings of Christ..." Look closely in Chapters 8, 9, and 10.

This was written by a Hellenistic Jew in Alexandria Egypt. Here is the origin of Christ in Hellenism not Judaism. Wisdom (or Sophia) in Hellenist-Jewish philosophy is the same as the Greek "Logos" (Reason) and in English "Word" as in the intro to the Gospel of John. For the first time we have the appearance of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom) and it's female! Later this "Holy" Spirit would have a Son - a Son of God later to be known as Christ. A Son of God who is born of his mother the Holy Spirit.

This is a product of syncretism or fusion of cultures and philosophies that produce new religions while rejecting those beliefs, etc. they are derived from. To quote Paul in Romans 2:6-10 on the True Wisdom,

"Yet we speak a Wisdom to those that are mature...this God has revealed to us through the (Holy) Spirit."

In Romans Chapter 3 Paul notes of himself he "laid the foundation" for Christianity which is a historical fact.

Finding the Real Jesus

Here we're going to study the Gospel of Mark in an attempt to recover the historical Jesus as much as possible and to separate Jesus, his ministry, and his life from the Hellenist usurper the Apostle Paul.

Jesus who was a Jew would never have gone for this Gnostic nonsense and the Gospel writers wanted to remove the political context of his death at the hands of the Romans for sedition and place his death at the hands of Jews over religion.

Jesus the Christ they worship, but Jesus the Jew was be rejected. Keep this in mind as we hunt for the real Jesus and not the Christ of Hellenist Paul and his followers.

Background on Mark/Marcus

Mark is mentioned in the following Bible passages mostly related to Paul:

Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25, Philemon 1:24, and 2 Timothy 4:11. Mark was a relative of Barnabas and they had some falling out with Paul for reasons Luke never specified;

Acts 15:37-39 - And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus...

By tradition Luke is a companion and biographer of Paul. Colossians 4:14 - "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." Luke like Mark and Paul were not one of Jesus' apostles. Luke was a Gentile.

Colossians 4:10 - Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salute you, and Mark, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

1 Peter 5:13 - The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salute you; and so does Mark my son.

The Gospel of Mark according to the New American Bible by tradition was written somewhere around 70 A.D. in Rome.

Second century church fathers speculated that Mark was Peter's interpreter, but ignored the possible controversy of Mark being the son of Peter. It's always possible we could be talking about two different Marks or son is simply a religious title.

The New American Bible notes that the Gospel of Mark is an anonymous work and notes that Matthew is based on Mark. The author of Matthew is also unknown. The New International Version speculates Mark could have been the figure in Mark 14:51-52;

"A young man wearing nothing but linen garment was following Jesus when they seized him. He ran naked leaving the garment behind."

The Gospel of Mark seems to have been written for Gentiles unfamiliar with Jewish customs. Thus the Christian audience in Rome would have no actual knowledge of Jewish customs, politics, or the Old Testament. This would seem to aid Paul and his followers. Mark was the shortest of the four Gospels.

The importance of Mark lies in its early date of writing possibly two decades or more before Matthew and Luke. That would still put its authorship as much as two decades later after Paul's earliest epistles written after his break with Jesus' Church under His bother James approximately 48-50 A.D. over the issue of circumcision. (Galatians) This was a bitter confrontation that put Paul's entire gospel and livelihood in danger. It was simply too dangerous for his Gentile followers to have to undergo adult circumcision.

There was also some bitter split between Paul, Barnabas, and Mark as mentioned earlier. Acts does not record this date but it could possibly be around the time that Paul had split with James.

Nonetheless Mark was not one of the 12 chosen by Jesus but a follower of Paul. As always the New Testament writers seem to try to link everybody else through the shadowy figure of St. Peter whom Jesus called Satan. (Mark 8:33)

Others speculate that Mark was a Hellenistic Jewish Christian from Syria - thus like Paul may have had no deep knowledge of Judaism except through Hellenistic thought. His Gospel at several points suggest this or it was tampered with later.

A close examination of Mark produces several clearly historical facts and clear fabrications. This Gospel under the sway of Paul of course is clearly anti-Jewish but other parts are devastating to Hellenistic Paulism:

Mark 12:29, 'And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, is one." Also see Deut. 6:4 destroys the Trinity.

The Gospel of Mark does not contain any virgin birth stories and most important the earliest copies of the gospel ended with an empty tomb. Thus there was no bodily resurrection story of Jesus walking around, no fishing trips as in the Gospel of John, etc.

In this I'm going to disregard the obviously fraudulent ending, the silly miracle stories, casting out demons, etc.

The Gospel of Mark Examined

The Gospel of Mark begins with John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus where he immediately goes out in the desert for 40 days and is tempted by Satan. This is pretty much the same story in Matthew and Luke but runs into problems immediately with Judaism.

Under Judaism there is no devil nor does the devil rule the world. Christian dualism is a product of the cultural influences of Zoroastrianism and Hellenism. This contradicts Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

This idea was introduced by Paul and derives from Hellenism - Paul claims Satan is the "God of this world" (2 Cor 4:4).

Thus God alone is the source of good and evil and not separate beings, parts of God, angels, devils, etc. God alone rules the earth and created the universe not creation by separate or lesser beings.

Now we come to Mark chapter 2 and Jesus heals a paralyzed man and right away we have so-called teachers of the law claiming Jesus was committing blasphemy. "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

The first problem is Judaism says no such thing - this was a creation of Christianity. This also tries to suggest that Jesus is somehow God and begins to set up a paradigm of confrontation with the Jews. They do not specify here who the teachers of the law are - are they Pharisees or Sadducees?

The idea sickness is caused by sin is more Paulist nonsense and simply irrational. There's no prohibition against "healing" at any time under the Pharisees. This view was concocted by Paul, "Therefore sin came into the world through one man (Adam) and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Romans 5:12).

This is important to understand because the two groups were mortal enemies. The Sadducees were the party of the rich and the politically powerful. Their center of power was the Temple in Jerusalem - and that power was concentrated in the hands of the high priest who was appointed by the Romans.

Since Greek rule around 330 BC foreign occupying powers had been appointing the high priest. This was their belief that the political-religious authority was concentrated at the Temple and by controlling the Temple they can control the people.

The problem was the rise of the Pharisee party starting perhaps 160 BC. This would be the equivalent of your country Evangelical churches today and religious power was concentrated at the local synagogue.

The Temple was seen as nothing more than ceremonial. In addition the Pharisees believed in the Oral Law a concept rejected by the Sadducees.

The Sadducees only believed in the first five books of the Torah and unlike the Pharisees rejected the concept of bodily resurrection. Quoting Acts 23:8,

"For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both."

Later on in Mark 2:16 we have the Pharisees critical of Jesus having dinner with the sinners and tax collectors. Be aware these tax collectors were not the harmless people the Gospels make them out to be. Many of them were vicious criminals that destroyed the lives scores of people through extortion driving them into slavery, ruin, and even suicide. This was literally Mafia 101.

It needs to be pointed out all of this took place at a time of violence and revolution. The Gospel writers play this down to a religious controversy and remove the political one. Judah was under harsh Roman rule and were allied with the Sadducees.

In Mark 2:23 we have a confrontation over the Sabbath. Mark has the Pharisees claiming that eating on the Sabbath is unlawful. The entire confrontation is ridiculous. Jesus goes into the story of King David and how he ate the consecrated bread that was only for priests to eat, etc.

The other problem was they were stealing - it wasn't their grain to just wonder into the field and eat. The fact is Jesus and his followers were anti-Roman rebels because they knew the Messiah (which Jesus believed he was) would overthrow Roman rule. In fact this was confirmed in Acts 5:34;

"a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go!"

Jesus followers were clearly considered part of the anti-Roman resistance just as Judas the Galilean and Theudas were - they and scores of others had been executed for sedition. So if they were running from the Romans and their Sadducee allies they were justified UNDER JUDAISM and Phariseesism to do just what they did. In fact if it comes to health or safety the Law is abrogated under Judaism anyway.

The Gospel of Mark has Jesus say quote, "the Sabbath was made for man, not the man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even on the Sabbath."

While Mark is attempting to create an image of conflict with the Pharisees what Jesus stated was Pharisees 101. So this entire sequence makes no sense on its face unless he was facing somebody else and not the Pharisees - these were likely Sadducees.

The "Son of Man" simply means human nothing more.

Why would Mark make this confrontation out to be the Pharisees instead of the Sadducees he hardly (except Mark 12:18) even mentions? If the gospel of Mark had been written 70 A.D. or later this was after-during the destruction of the Temple and the Sadducees during the Jewish revolt from 66 through 70 A.D. The Sadducees were wiped out while the Pharisee opposition remained.

If Mark was written in Rome for Romans there would be an effort to play down the Roman part in this drama. But due to the early date of writing there may still have been those familiar enough with the actual Jesus so Mark had to placate them - plus the fact he broke with Paul may have colored his views.

This would've left one enemy for Paul and his followers to deal with and that was the Pharisees. And because this was a Roman Gentile audience they would never know the difference anyway.

Further proof that the Sadducees were in control of the Temple can be found in Acts 5:17;

"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation..." It was the high priest crying to kill Jesus' followers back in Acts 5.

And Acts 4:1, "And as they spoke unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them..."

The Jewish Messiah was supposed to be king of this world but in John 18:36,

"my kingdom is not of this world" and "now my kingdom is from another place."

This is a Gnostic belief and not a Jewish belief. The Jewish Messiah was to create God's kingdom in this world but the Gnostics believed in a heavenly or spiritual kingdom free of a corrupt material universe and becoming one with the Father and the Son in a spiritual union.

Further proof of this is John 17:21-23 Jesus proclaims,

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one..."

The Gnostic messiah would impart to his followers salvation by a type of spiritual wisdom or knowledge of oneself and the Father. See;

1 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 Corinthians 15:34, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 6:6, 2 Corinthians 8:7, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 3:4, Ephesians 3:19, Ephesians 4:13, Philippians 1:9, Philippians 3:8, Colossians 1:9, Colossians 1:10, Colossians 2:3, Colossians 3:10, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 3:7, Hebrews 10:26, 2 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:8, 2 Peter 2:20, 2 Peter 3:18.

Paulism seems to use "faith" interchangeably with "knowledge."

Now we come to Mark 6:1 and we have the story of the beheading of John the Baptist the man "crying in the wilderness". The figure in Isaiah 40:3 was not supposed to be beheaded.

This is vitally important to understand that the Jewish understanding of the Messiah as a military political figure has no relation to the cosmic Savior deity of the Apostle Paul or the proto-Gnostic John. This Kingdom of God was supposed to be here in the real world. Reference Malachi 4:5.

Mark 13:13, "Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done."

And Matthew 34:24, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

As the Gospels progress from the oldest such as Mark to the newest such as John they become progressively more anti-Jewish and more Gnostic. John is so alien to Mark they can't even agree on Jesus and the Cross. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke Simon carried the Cross but in John 19:17,

"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:"

In Mark 3:1 we find Jesus enters a synagogue and heals a man with a shriveled hand. Again the gospel of Mark makes this out as a confrontation with synagogue officials over the issue can you do medical treatments on the Sabbath.

There is no confrontation here because under Judaism once again things such as medical treatment or anything life-threatening the Law doesn't apply.

This is once again creating the false paradigm that Jesus was hated by the Pharisees and building up to the plot that they were going to kill him later on. What he did again was Pharisees 101. Jesus was a Pharisee.

In Mark 4:10 is Gnosticism 101:

"when he was alone the 12 and the others around him asked him about the parables he told them, the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you but to those on the outside everything is said and parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding otherwise they might turn and be forgiven."

This is Gnosticism because Jesus is imparting secret spiritual knowledge (Wisdom) to his select followers but talks babble and parables to others. This is the "knowledge" Paul and Peter referred to in the earlier list above.

Again Mark 4:22 says, "For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and what ever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open if anyone has ears to hear let him hear..."

Again the image of Jesus as a Gnostic spiritual master who is revealing to his followers hidden knowledge not available to others.

In Mark 5:8 we have the story of Legion and the demon possessed pigs whom Jesus causes to go drown themselves. Nothing else to say.

In Mark 7:1 we have another confrontation with the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law over the issue of unclean or not washing one's hands before eating. Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 is ridiculous because this has nothing to do with this issue other than another Paulist attempt to attack God's Laws.

In addition Jesus is taking God's words from Isaiah suggesting he is God - that would be blasphemy under Judaism.

In Mark 8:27 Jesus asked his followers, "who am I?" They replied "some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets." Peter answered, "you are the Christ."

Understand that Christ is really Greek for anointed - this is merely a title. Other anointed figures would include Cyrus the Persian in Isaiah 45:1,

"Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;"

Anointed simply means a servant of God just as the Jewish term son of God refers to a holy and righteous man. The Jewish understanding of Christ is simply a man that walks with God not a divine human.

In Mark 10:32 he tells his disciples that they're going up to Jerusalem, that he is going to be betrayed, condemned to death, and will be handed over to the Gentiles. Jesus knew in advance what was going to happen and in fact planned on it. As we shall see this entire story of Judas is questionable.

In Mark 10:1, etc. we know the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem, the cheering crowds, and the near riots he created by clearing the Temple. Thousands of people saw Jesus, everyone knew who he was.

In Mark 11:20 we have the story of a dead fig tree Jesus cursed-killed in Mark 11:12 because it had no figs for his lunch. This displays some type of petty anger because this relates to Joel 2:22;

"The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and vine yield their riches..."

Seems the "Lord's answer" is already running into problems.

In the Gospel stories we have the Feast of Tabernacles during this time which is in the fall when these events occurred and not in spring as Christianity claims with Easter - the pagan idea of risen savior gods occur in spring. See Zechariah 14:16. Passover is in spring but they can't occur at the same time.

In Mark 11:27 etc. Jesus was walking around the temple court the chief priests and the teachers of the law of the elders and etc. were questioning his authority. He refers to the Holy Spirit and his baptism in Mark 1:9 as his authority. The only problem is there's no Holy Spirit in Judaism nor does the terms Holy Ghost/Spirit hardly even appear in the Old Testament.

This is another Hellenist-Platonist' concept introduced by Paul who also claimed the authority of the Holy Spirit. Again God is One as Jesus said in Mark 12:29;

"The most important one, answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one..."

It's obvious everybody knew who Jesus was. His answer here was babbling nonsense. Later in Mark 12:13 the Pharisees and Herodians confronted Jesus over the issue of paying taxes to Caesar.

This makes no sense - Pharisees and Herodians were mortal enemies. This was most likely the Sadducees again because their power depended on Roman rule. The Pharisees and the zealots were enemies of the Romans, their puppets, and allies.

In Mark 13:1 etc. Jesus goes into the signs of the end of the age. He proclaims the day and the hour unknown but is clearly at that time.

In Mark 14:43 we have the arrest of Jesus after the kiss from Judas to help identify him to temple officials. This makes absolutely no sense because every body knew who Jesus was - who could not know?

Jesus was taken to the high priest. We know the story of Peter's denial, and the accusations against Jesus. One of the accusations was the Temple being destroyed and rebuilt in three days.

This was no threat at all to the Pharisees but this was a grave threat to the Sadducee party whose power was at the Temple. Jesus admits to the high priest that he is the "Christ" out to destroy them.

In Mark 15:1 Jesus is turned over to Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus are you the king of the Jews? Jesus said yes. Under Roman law this is sedition - anyone claiming to be king of the Jews is overthrowing Caesar and thus crucifixion is the penalty for rebellion.

Now we come to the absurd story of Barabbas and Pontius Pilate claiming some Jewish custom to release murderers on a particular holiday. This is a lie because there is no such custom. In fact Barabbas was another rebel accused of insurrection thus sentenced to crucifixion.

Crucifixion was reserved for crimes against the Roman State.

During the crucifixion the New American Bible identifies the other two men not as robbers but as revolutionaries. Any threat to Roman rule is considered sedition and punishable by death. Jesus was executed for breaking Roman law by Romans.

Jesus had broken no Jewish law and as a Pharisee he had no qualms with other Pharisees. But as the Jewish Messiah he would be leading an insurrection against the Romans and their puppets the Sadducees.

The silly incident with Barabbas and Pontius Pilate completely defies known history. Pontius Pilate actually lived and they have archaeological proof in Italy. He was a tyrant, murderer, and went out of his way to antagonize the Jews to the point the Roman government removed him from office.

Mark 15:9 clearly says that it was the chief priest behind the death of Jesus - they were the appointed allies of the Roman occupiers. Unlike the stories in Matthew, Luke, and John Pontius Pilate directly executed Jesus and contradicted the lie in the other Gospels that Jesus had not broken Roman law and that it's the Jews fault.

The image of Pontius Pilate as somehow almost begging for Jesus's life and caving in to Jewish mobs is absurd. John 18:30 illustrates this absurdity:

"They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death..."

That is absurd - they can execute people by stoning. Remember Stephen? John 18:38 - 19:4 after questioning Jesus Pilate said,

"Pilate said to him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said to them, I find in him no fault at all...Pilate therefore went forth again, and said unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him."

To quote www.britannica.com

Pontius Pilate, (died c. ad 36), Roman prefect (governor) of Judaea (ad 2636) under the emperor Tiberius; he presided at the trial of Jesus and gave the order for his crucifixion...he incurred the enmity of the Jews by insulting their religious sensibilities, as when he hung worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and had coins bearing pagan religious symbols minted.

After Sejanus's fall (ad 31), Pilate was exposed to sharper criticism from the Jews, who may have capitalized on his vulnerability by obtaining a legal death sentence on Jesus (John 19:12). The Samaritans reported him to Vitellius, legate of Syria, after he had attacked them on Mt. Gerizim (ad 36). He was then ordered back to Rome to stand trial for cruelty and oppression, particularly on the charge that he executed men without proper trial...

Hardly sounds like the wimp in John 19:7-8;

"The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid..."

The Chief Priest said in John 19:15, "We have no king but Caesar." Only a Sadducee quisling would say something like that - and the Paulist wanting the favor of the Romans.

In the end Jesus was hoping for a miracle from God to defeat the Romans and establish what he believed was his kingdom on earth. He failed horribly and his last agonizing words to God were, "my God my God why have you forsaken me?" Jesus clearly never planned to die this way on a cross. This was not the prophecy of Zechariah 9:10.

It's obvious that Jesus knew the confrontation was coming and in my opinion sent Judas to set it up - or the story was fabricated to explain away Jesus' failure to deliver this "Kingdom of God" however defined.

The idea of Judas having to identify Jesus is simply crazy. But the church needed a fall guy and Judas - and the Jews - were it. Judas in grief obviously never wanted this to happen either. Depending on which story we believe he hung himself or he fell in a hole and his insides burst.

In the end Jesus the failed itinerant Pharisee rabbi died a horrible death as a Jew for a Jewish cause. A few years later his memory was hijacked by a Hellenistic-Roman usurper named Paul. His name would be used as an excuse for genocide and persecution of the people Jesus loved and died for.

Christianity has a hell of a lot to answer for.

Notes:

Of the 231 times the word faith appears in the Bible it appears only twice in the OT. (KJV)

Holy Spirit/Ghost appears only twice in the OT and not used in the manner of the NT.

Most quotes taken from the KJV and edited according to the NIV Student Bible.

Christian Historical references taken from the Catholic New American Bible New Testament revised 1986.

Jewish historical and political history taken from 'Mythmaker Paul and the Invention of Christianity' by Hyam Maccoby.