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What did Jesus wear when soldiers mocked him?


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#1    eight bits

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 09:39 AM

All four Gospels depict Jesus wearing something other than his own clothes shortly before his crucifixion. He apparently wears his own clothes again when he arrives at his crucifixion, since these are presumably the clothes that the soldiers cast lots for.

In Mark and Matthew, Jesus' tormentors are Roman soldiers, who dress him up as if he were a king to mock him. In Luke, it is Herod and his soldiers who mock Jesus, and send him back to Pilate in a luxurious robe. John takes the prize, his Jesus wears a purple garment during the hugely dramatic "Ecce homo" scene.

(Mark 15: 15-20, Matthew 27: 27- 31, Luke 23: 11, John 19: 1 ff.)

One difficulty with Mark's account is that the unspecified clothing is purple. Beware of translations which put "cloak" in 15: 20, the kind of clothing isn't specified in Mark, or even that what the soldiers place on Jesus is clothing in the usual sense.

The kind of purple that would be most associated with royalty is Tyrean purple. This was very expensive stuff. You wouldn't likely have something like that lying around and even if you did, you wouldn't drape it on a bloody, pus-covered scourged criminal.

Luke is silent about the color. Herod just might have something purple on hand - but the gesture would still be gratuitously expensive (unless it was some kind of gift for Pilate, delivered in a weird way). Matthew uses another color word, scarlet maybe, although that mightn't be a bad description of the actual shade "royal purple" was. Famously, a genuine Tyrean dyed article looked different depending on the light and its age. John confirms Mark's purple.

Although the point of being dressed in purple is to suggest royalty for the purposes of mockery, no Gospel says the color actually was Tyrean purple.

OK, that's all I know. My questions would be, emphasizing the oldest account, the one in Mark: What did happen in Mark 15: 15-20, assuming that something like the reported incident really happened? And, as always in Bits' Bible Studies, who is the gospel writer's witness? This takes place inside Pilate's compound, out of public view (unlike Luke and John), and, as already noted, Jesus is dressed again in his own clothes before he is led to the crucifixion, which trip was in public.

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#2    Imaginarynumber1

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:26 AM

Leopard print thong?

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#3    Tiggs

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:28 AM

View Posteight bits, on 19 September 2012 - 09:39 AM, said:

OK, that's all I know. My questions would be, emphasizing the oldest account, the one in Mark: What did happen in Mark 15: 15-20, assuming that something like the reported incident really happened? And, as always in Bits' Bible Studies, who is the gospel writer's witness? This takes place inside Pilate's compound, out of public view (unlike Luke and John), and, as already noted, Jesus is dressed again in his own clothes before he is led to the crucifixion, which trip was in public.

Since our recorded witnesses are "the whole company of soldiers" and we know that later at least one Centurion believed him to be the Son of God due to the manner of his death - that Centurion would seem to be a viable sympathetic witness.

As to the cloak colour discrepancy - that's interesting. Perhaps Mark claimed purple for dramatic purposes and realizing the unlikelihood of that, Matthew walked it back to Scarlet and Luke decided to not mention it, as there was no agreement between the two.


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#4    eight bits

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:10 PM

Tiggs

OK, 15: 39,

When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

And yet, even though Matthew 27:54 confirms the centurion's line, and  Luke 23: 47-49 confirms that the centurion spoke, there the centurion says only that surely Jesus was innocent or righteous. And moving on to Lucan Acts, the only Roman military I can remember being involved with the early Jeruasalem Jesus movement is the centurion Cornelius (chapter 10, whole, retold in 11, through verse 18).

Cornelius doesn't seem to be our guy. He also doesn't seem to know our guy.

Another problem is that the centurion's line, so close to the end of what genuine Mark we have, plainly echoes the opening line of Mark as the canon has it:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God].

You know what the brackets mean: there are manuscripts that have introductory sentence, but don't have that phrase.

I don't have a solution for this, but I don't think the centurion is our man. But, of course, for the Marcan account the only witness-candidates mentioned are the soldiers.

As to the color problem, I agree that Mark is going for the color-word appropriate for the occasion. Matthew of the two-asses might not even know what color that would be :), although as far as color-sensation is concerned, what a witness might report, they aren't necessarily very far apart.  Luke, it seems to me, isn't just declining to referee the earlier synoptics, he's got his own, wholly other, parallel incident.

Anyway, I do appreciate your remarks.

Edited by eight bits, 19 September 2012 - 12:16 PM.

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#5    Mr Walker

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:23 PM

From memory, he was stripped before being put on the cross. As with most prisoners who were crucified, his clothes were take off so they could be  kept undamaged for later use or sale.  Once on the cross he wore a loin cloth and a crown of thorns. :innocent:
Sorry. Not really pertinent to the question.

It wouldnt have been purple. It was a serious offence  for other than those allowed by law to possess or wear purple. Only roman "nobility" had that right. I am not sure even herod, being non roman, would have had purple robes.

As the roman soldiers would have been unlikely to possess or have access to any rich clothing (certainly not an imitation of royalty's,) the garments either came from herod or one of the rich jews there to see christ executed.

While the story certainly has a point/purpose, and as such might be just a literary device, it is precisely the sort of thing roman soldiers might have done at such an event,  just to liven things up a bit and have some fun at the expense of the victim.

They had a rough and ready sense of humour and such clowning around is recorded at other executions.

Edited by Mr Walker, 19 September 2012 - 12:38 PM.

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#6    Doug1o29

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:53 PM

View Posteight bits, on 19 September 2012 - 09:39 AM, said:

In Mark and Matthew, Jesus' tormentors are Roman soldiers, who dress him up as if he were a king to mock him. In Luke, it is Herod and his soldiers who mock Jesus, and send him back to Pilate in a luxurious robe. John takes the prize, his Jesus wears a purple garment during the hugely dramatic "Ecce homo" scene.
Note that Philo of Alexandria describes an almost-identical scene involving a mentally-deficient man named Carabbas.  This incident occurred in 41 AD when Herod Agrippa (?) was visiting in Alexandria on his way back to Jerusalem from Rome.  The Hasmonian kings (Herod's line) were Arabs and the Jews were not at all happy about Rome's imposing them as kings on the Jewish nation.  The title "King of the Jews" was created by the Roman Senate and used derogatorily by the Jews.

Were it not for the verses depicting this scene, the Book of Mark would contain 666 verses.  It appears that the authors of Mark borrowed this story from Philo so as to avoid the 666 curse.  Note also, that if you change the "C" in Carabbas to a "B" you have the Jewish phrase "Son of the Father." - the name of one of Jesus' companions in execution.  It is asking a bit much of history to say that the "Son of the Father" and the "Son of God" were executed side-by-side.

Philo's story was written at least 20 years before any version of gospel history claims the gospels were written.  It is hard to believe that this is not a case of ancient plagiarism.
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#7    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:03 PM

For some reason, courtesy of this thread, I imagine him dressed like Mister Gumby from Monty Python....

Edited by Wearer of Hats, 19 September 2012 - 10:33 PM.

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#8    Alienated Being

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:05 PM

View PostWearer of Hats, on 19 September 2012 - 10:03 PM, said:

For some reason, courtesy of this thread, I imagine him dressed like Mister Gumbly from Monty Python....
HAHAAHAHAHAHHAHA.


#9    Beckys_Mom

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:01 PM

A frown ..

Edited by Beckys_Mom, 19 September 2012 - 11:01 PM.

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#10    ambelamba

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:15 PM

I guess he was completely naked. And probably he was raped by Roman soldiers. Maybe I should stop watching Spartacus on Starz....

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#11    eight bits

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 12:30 AM

Thanks to all who've written in. On some of the points arising:

Ron J

Quote

I guess he was completely naked.

Well, he may have been, but then they draped something on him. What that was is one of my questions.

BM

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A frown, very probably.

Doug

The Philo thing is interesting (Flaccus VI, 36-39). Thank you for bringing it up.

I don't think that there is a high expectation of originality in barracks humor (see Mr Walker's post on "clowning around" as attested on other occasions). Presumably the titulus (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews) is being prepared while all this mockery is going on. The theme of King of the Jews is in play, and so they play that theme.

On the other hand, even if there was a witness, the Philo incident might help the evangelist write his story, providing a model. It's hard to say. But yes, Philo died in 50, before even Paul wrote anything that survives. It is definitely available for the Marcan writer and editors to use or emulate..

The Barabbas thing is problematic, and the further coincidence with Carabbas doesn't help.

Mr W

Yes, he was naked on the cross. Maybe that cloak they were reluctant to divide was kept aside, but his other clothes, I think, were not in usable condition. Interesting question, though, what they did with those. There must have been a policy, since they did this sort of thing often.

While I am unsure that the sumptuary laws were as strictly enforced as all that, we don't really have any reaosn to think that anything actually Tyrean purple appears in the story. I think if the soldiers were treating the material as purple, then anything "close" could be called purple if the characters in the story are treating it as if it were purple.

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#12    Ninhursag

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 11:08 AM

Why Is It So Important What He Was Wearing?? Just Curious ..

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#13    eight bits

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 12:28 PM

Quote

Why Is It So Important What He Was Wearing?? Just Curious ..

For me, what intrigues is that Mark doesn't say. He's telling the story in a realistic way, and he includes a certain amount of detail. So, why use awkward grammatical constructions to avoid this subject? Why not just spill it?

Maybe interesting to more people is that a lot of folks argue that all four of the Gospels depict the Romans as "more fair" to Jesus than the Jews. Usually, they point to the contrasting trial scenes, The Temple kangaroo court versus Pilate's sober inquiry. The reasons offered for why the Gospels do that  are payback  that most Jews didn't just accept Jesus as their Messiah, plus an ongoing political need to gain toleration and favor from later Roman authorities.

But the earlier Gospels, Mark and Matthew, have this scene which is inflammatory and unambigously anti-Roman. The write-up of this incident was the Abu Ghraib pics of its time. Then comes Luke, and it's 180 degrees on Roman responsibility. It'd be like the United States saying, "Yes, those are nasty pix, but that wasn't us. Those were taken while Saddam Hussein was still running the prison." And John makes it look like Pilate was doing Jesus a favor - maybe that nasty Jewish mob will grow some compassion and relent.

So, my own opinion is that this incident helps clarify the charges of Gospel anti-semitism and Roman pandering. I've always thought that both trials were depicted as unjust, in all four Gospels. And no matter how you slice it, Pilate is shown as a wuss who can't make up his mind, and it wouldn't matter much if he did make it up, because the mob is calling the shots anyway.

But the abuse of a broken man by Roman soldiers in uniform is unambiguous. Roman occupation is unjust, arbitrary and brutal. That indictment would have resonated in a lot of places besides Jerusalem. Then the Roman atrocity disappears from the later Gospels.

So, I think this is the smoking gun for charges that the Gospel writers pandered to Roman sensibilities. Not all the Gospels, and the church obviously didn't rewrite the older versions, but something like pandering does seem to have occurred. Alternatively, Luke had it right, and the early writers falsely pinned the incident on the Romans for reasons that made sense while Jerusalem was still a functioning Jewish city under Roman rule, direct or through puppet-kings.

What do you think?

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#14    Abramelin

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 01:19 PM

I think the Romans appear to look less worse than the Jews in the Gospels because eventually Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

Then you can't have Romans look bad and their opposers look good in comparison.


#15    eight bits

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 07:45 PM

Quote

I think the Romans appear to look less worse than the Jews in the Gospels because eventually Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

Yes, but the Gospels were written about 200-250 years before Christianity, along with all other religions, became legal Empire-wide. Dominance was another generation after that.

Personally, I think the changing treatment of the mockery had something to do with changing expectations about what Jesus would do when he came back. Apart from granting his followers immortality, I think the very early expectation was that he would restore Israel's independence and make her a world power.

By the time Luke was written, ~80 CE or maybe later, Jerusalem was gone as a political and religious center. Besides, it was becoming clear that Jesus wasn't coming back soon. Who knows? Maybe sacking the city and razing the Temple was preached as Jesus' revenge on his Jewish tormentors, another step on the road to his return, rather than yet another delay.

So, I think the shift in telling this incident, from a one-man Abu Ghraib, then onto a Herodian dynasty problem, and then its incorporation into the Cecil B. Demille Passion maybe reflects late-First and early-Second Century events contemporary with the Gospels' composition.

Compared with what Jesus promised, or Paul promised for him, running the Roman Empire would have been seen as a consolation prize. Even Satan got more than that.

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