Chapter III of the English edition
© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany
© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands
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We have shown some similarities and parallels between Caesar and Jesus. There are just as many to be found when we compare the narratives of their respective passions.
Both Caesar and Jesus were murdered. In both cases their elimination
was of no gain to the murderers: Brutus died and so did Judas; Caesar
had a successor, Jesus resurrected; Caesar was elevated to the gods,
Jesus ascended into heaven.
main discrepancy lies in the fact that Caesar was stabbed and Jesus
crucified. At this point the parallels seem to come to an end.
So let us have a closer look at this essential difference.
Firstly, to get our bearings, we will recall the structure of their respective passion narratives.
Caesar we have (a) the conspiracy, (b) the assassination, (c) the
posthumous trial, (d) the cremation, (e) the conflict about his
heritage, (f) the succession.
Jesus we have (a) the conspiracy, (b) the capture, (c) the trial, (d)
the crucifixion, (e) the burial, (f) the resurrection.
structural correspondence is plain to see. The main discrepancy is that
Caesar was murdered at the attack, whereas Jesus was merely captured.
All the other differences are the result of this: regarding their
trials, the only difference is that one is already dead whilst the
other one is still alive. Whether we are dealing with funeral or
crucifixion depends on whether Jesus was still alive or not at the
time. Conflict about the inheritance on the one hand and the burial of
Jesus’ body on the other only seem to be different: in both cases
it is about the corpus. Succession or resurrection, it is about the
Empire—whether on earth or in heaven.
The first question we have to deal with is whether Jesus was still alive at his trial.
And when he does finally speak, what does he say?
‘Thou sayest it.’
Which again means nothing: the other one says it, not he himself.
It is not necessary to take Jesus’ last words into consideration: they are an invention in some phase or other of the tradition. This is something all scholars agree on. Namely, that it was a common literary topos in antiquity to put last words into the mouth of anyone famous who was dying. Indeed, Mark, and after him Matthew, have the famous ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’; Luke has instead: ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’; John, showing little respect, has him settle his last Will and Testament—‘Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother’—then toast to it—‘I thirst’—and to set the seal on it—‘It is finished’. Everybody has put something different into his mouth: this proves that he said nothing, otherwise there would only be one version.
same can be applied to his conversation with those who were crucified
along with him. Mark merely reports that they reviled him and offers no
further elaboration. The conversation only starts with the later
Jesus is silent after his capture. He, the fearless individualist,
acting alone against everybody from the beginning—he who had come
not to bring peace but the sword—should suddenly become
speechless? Here, the gifted orator with whom the word was from the
beginning, and who had something eloquent and incisive to say on every
occasion, whether it were Sermons on the Mount or parables, is now dead
silent at his trial, the crucial moment when he finally has a stage? We
immediately think of the apology of Socrates, the other famous orator
who was unjustly condemned. This silence of Jesus is
inexplicable—that is why there is such an extensive literature
Was his trial conducted posthumously? Was he already dead?
The following sentence of Mark is also quite strange:
‘…and they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.’
Here Mark says pherousin,
‘they carried him’, and not, as one would expect,
‘they led him’. We hesitate because, here, where according
to the traditional story Jesus should still be alive, he is
‘carried’ to the place of a skull. Was he not capable of
going by himself? We note that just before this, Simon the Cyrenian had
been forced to take Jesus’ cross and carry it. So he must have
been unable to do it himself. Of course this debility is usually
attributed to the earlier flagellation that he had endured. But the
fact is, if Mark is to be taken literally, he not only did not carry
his cross, he even had to be carried himself.
we take an objective look at the corpse of Jesus, we have to observe
that it bears a very unusual feature for someone who was crucified,
namely a stab-wound in the side, and one so open and fresh that blood
ran out of it. Very peculiar indeed, so much so that John, who quotes
this detail, feels himself obliged to provide us with an explanation
for the inexplicable:
‘But when they came to Jesus ... one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.’
And because it was apparently unheard of, John fiercely swears that it is true:
‘And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.’
And because still no one believes him John explains why he should be believed:
‘For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled… (Zach. 12:10): “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”’
biblical critics smirk here and say that the passage obviously has been
invented to ensure that the prophecy is fulfilled: and they are right,
but only partly.
we are dealing with a so-called midrash, a very formalized method for
interpreting something inexplicable. The idea is that everything must
already be present in the biblia iudaica; if an unusual event
takes place and one has to justify it, then at least one passage has to
be found in the Jewish books that can serve as a vaticinium ex eventu, a prophecy after the event. Some Gospel critics even deem the events in the Gospel text eventus ex vaticiniis,
which would mean they are entirely invented on the basis of the
prophecies. They thus misjudge intention and mechanism of the midrash.
For, one sees immediately that the unexplainable must already be
present so that the corresponding passage can be sought, otherwise
simply any passage could be sought to justify anything. But the Gospels
do not contain just anything but something definite, and very precisely
defined at that.
we conclude that the passage in John is probably interpolated—the
other Evangelists know nothing about it—however the reason to
search for a corresponding passage was pre-existent: they had stabbed
him. That we may regard as a certainty.
An indirect proof that John is speaking the truth here is brought to us by an apocryphon, which means a scripture not accepted into the canon, the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate. There it is said that the soldier who perforated his side with a lance was named Longinus.
Theologians speculate here that the name Longinus may have been invented: because lance in Greek is lonchê, the soldier was consequently named Longinus:
in this they break the rules of the art. For ‘Longinus’ is
a proper name, ‘lance’ a common term; the one rare and
personal, the other one universally known. Experts speak of a lectio difficilior and a lectio facilior—by
this they mean that in the process of tradition the easier word can
replace the more difficult one: never the other way round. Thus
Longinus is certain, and the pointed weapon was associated with his
name and so became a lance. But the pointed weapon could have been of a
where did John take the stab in the chest of Jesus? It can only have
happened at his capture, where there was a violent engagement and the
naked sword was drawn:
‘…and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him. And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.’
are accustomed to hearing sword used here and not dagger, because in
the King James Version it was translated this way. But Mark does not
say sword, but machaira, which primarily means knife, then dagger, or at most a short sword—like, for example, the Roman gladius.
That murderers were involved in the so-called arrest of Jesus is revealed by Mark’s choice of words in the next verse:
‘And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?’
translates: ‘…as against a murderer’. We can be
confident that a gang went wild with daggers and other weapons, and
indeed so wild that they wounded each other in the face. The arrest of
Jesus seems to have been more murderous than it looks at first glance.
Due to the fact that Jesus does not speak a word after the arrest and
is later depicted with an open chest-wound, untypical for a crucified
one, it is reasonable to assume that he was murdered at this point and
that his so-called arrest was actually his capture, his entrapment,
and—as Mark’s choice of words indicates—his
John could have easily borrowed the stab in the side of Jesus from here and have made use of it at the descent from the cross.
while we are at it, let us have a quick look at the parallel passage in
the assassination of Caesar. The supposition that the Caesar source
could have been used as a model for Mark is substantiated by the
following detail, mentioned by Appianus:
‘Many of the attackers wounded each other, whilst they stabbed with the daggers.’
If we leave the servant in Mark’s account of the capture of Jesus out of consideration for a moment
and understand that the High Priest himself was the target of the
stabbing, then Mark’s report superbly summarizes the attack on
Caesar, pontifex maximus, High Priest.
And who stabbed him?—Longinus—C. Cassius Longinus:
‘Cassius stabbed into the face…’
—says Appianus; and Suetonius:
all the many stab wounds, according the judgement of Antistius, his
personal physician, only one was mortal, namely the second, which he
took in his chest.’
the logical conclusion of this would be that the crucifixion of Jesus
was actually his funeral, and therefore, either the crucifixion did not
take place at all, or if it did, it too was posthumous.
Mark writes: ‘And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS’; Luke: ‘And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’; Matthew: ‘And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’; John: ‘And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZAREHT THE KING OF THE JEWS’.
we have cited the four Gospels in the supposed order of their genesis:
the oldest is thought to be Mark (the so-called Protoevangelium); then
follow Luke and Matthew, which show a lot of conformity to Mark (that
is why they are called Synoptics), but in contrast to Mark they present
in places some ‘unpublished material’ (the famous source Q and the Sondergut, special material); John is supposed to be the latest of them all, but he belongs to a tradition different from the other three.
is striking that the further away in time the Evangelist is from the
events being reported, the more he has to say when it should be the
other way around. Let us follow the thread from the other direction.
has added the epithet Nazoraean (meaning from Nazareth), the cross and
Pilate; Luke has added (in some manuscripts) that it was written in
letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew; Matthew for his part has added
the name Jesus and that the sign was positioned above his head. And
what was it that Mark added to his exemplar? After the word
‘king’, should he not have appended the words ‘of the
Jews’? So we have to conclude that originally there was only the
accusation of being king, which had been written (wherever).
The inscription over Jesus’ head in Mark was: (h)o basileus tôn Ioudaiôn, ‘the King of the Jews’.
But Iulius is written in Greek IOULIOS—Ioulios, in the accusative IOULION—Ioulion, (the temple) of Iulius is named IOULIEION (HRWON)—Ioulieion (hêrôon)—which both visually resemble IOUDAIWN—Ioudaiôn—because of the resemblance of D and L (D like L) in the graphic. Basileus did not always mean king, in Greek it could frequently indicate the Latin imperator, as also basileia could indicate imperium.
of the Jews’ and ‘Imperator Iulius’, or
‘Imperator (from the house) of the Iulians’ are confusable
Was the inscription on the cross at all? Where did the cross stand?
It is only explicitly mentioned as being in the hands of Simon of Cyrene:
‘And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.’
The King James Version lingers in our ears: ‘…to bear his cross.’ But Mark says arêi: ‘…to take up his cross, lift it.’
is strange. According to Mark, Simon did not bear the cross in
Jesus’ place but rather lifted it up, erected it. Did Jesus ever
come in contact with that cross?
Let us look at the development of the sentence that tells us Jesus was crucified:
Matthew: ‘And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots…’
Luke: ‘…there they crucified him…’
John: ‘Where they crucified him…’
is striking that John and Luke first emphasize that he was crucified;
Matthew and Mark speak of the parted garments and about the casting of
lots. We learn that he was crucified because it happened just at the
moment that they were parting the garments and casting the lots:
incidentally, as it were.
crucifixion seems to have graduated from a side issue to the central
issue. And even after this metamorphosis, the speech is only about the
act of the crucifixion itself, not about a cross: a verb rather than a
If we have a closer look at this verb, it turns out that staurô does not mean crucify, but to put up posts or slats or a palisade, or more precisely to fence in. Namely, the origin of the verb is stauros, which means stake, post, slat, and especially in the plural: palisade. First the Christians used the verb in the sense of ‘to put up a post’, then the post was interpreted as a stake and later on as a torture stake—a cross. So, ‘put up stakes or posts’ became ‘lift to the cross’, whereby in the mind, due to the iconography, the image of ‘nailed to the cross’ developed.
Above we have utilized the ‘Christian’ translation of Mark’s sentence:
‘And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them…’
a Greek of the first century would not have understood the sentence in
this way, either not at all, or if so, rather in this sense:
when they were putting up stakes, posts or slats or a palisade around
him, they parted the garments, and cast valuable pieces on
—because the Greek word for lot—klêros—originally means all that is received as an allotment, especially an inheritance, an heirloom.
strange sentence. It rather seems to describe the erection of a funeral
pyre and the ritual casting of gifts for the dead on it than the
erection of a cross.
The preceding sentence of Mark is even stranger:
‘And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.’
sentence does not say anything. We are informed that Jesus has not
taken anything: a piece of non-news. It is inexplicable why this
sentence should be here at all. Obviously, the other Evangelists could
not interpret it either and started, each after his own manner, to make
a ‘reasonable’ reorganization of the existing requisites.
who likes to search through the Jewish scriptures, found the psalm
(69:21): ‘They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst
they gave me vinegar to drink.’ And he promptly rewrote it:
‘They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.’
of the manuscripts refer to wine instead of vinegar. But it is assumed
that the original word was vinegar and not wine, as otherwise Matthew
would not have found it in the psalm. And because he found vinegar, the
gall replaced the myrrh. Probably, Mark often used the word wine
instead of vinegar—through the intermediate word oxys oinos
‘sour, vinegary wine’—because of the resemblance of
the words and because myrrh was added to the wine, not to vinegar. But
for the others, vinegar held its position. Therefore the myrrh had to
fade out, only to pop up again in another place.
In fact, Luke simply left out the myrrh: the soldiers only offer vinegar to Jesus.
‘And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar…’
He does not tell us if Jesus took it or not.
He makes the women bring the myrrh to the grave, interestingly enough not in the form of myrrh—myrrha, MURRA—but instead as ointment—myra, MURA:
‘…and [they] beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments;’
At this point in Mark’s account he only speaks of ‘aromatics’, arômata. It looks as though Luke combined it because of the resemblance of the names arômata and myra.
lets this sentence disappear completely from this particular place
where it explains nothing—because myrrh was not ingested but used
externally, resulting in Mark and Matthew being forced to say:
‘…he would not drink’—and moves it backwards
to places where it makes more sense. He separates the vinegar from the
myrrh: he has vinegar being offered to Jesus, together with hyssop, and
he takes it:
‘…and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar…’
John has the myrrh being brought, not by the women, but by Nicodemus when Jesus’ corpse is collected: ‘…and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.’ Why the aloes are suddenly added to the myrrh is explained as follows: ‘…with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.’
After we have reviewed the four canonical Gospels, it is certain that the original requisites are the following: MURRA or MURA—myrrha or myra, ‘myrrh’ or ‘ointment’, OXU(V)—oxy(s), ‘sour’ (vine) and OUK respectively OUN ELABEN—ouk/oun elaben, ‘did not take’ respectively ‘did take’.
Now, if we wanted to decide between these alternatives, we would have to give the first requisite myra priority over myrrha, because Mark does not say myrrh, but esmyrnismenon, i. e. actually ‘anointed’, but in Mark it still has the sense of ‘myrrhed, with a little bit of myrrh’.
In the second and third requisite there is a resemblance in the lettering between oxy ‘sour’ and ouk/oun
‘not/but’. Because Mark does not have ‘oxy’
anymore, his ‘ouk’ would appear to be the residuum of it.
And as ‘ouk’ is unstable—it is not by chance that
John replaces it with ‘oun’—only ‘oxy’
and ‘elaben’ can be regarded as valid.
This means that we are only left with the requisites: MUR(A) / OXU / ELABEN—myr(a) / oxy / elaben.
we arrive at the following conclusion: Abstracting from the popular
translations and taking them literally, the two verses in which Mark
tells us that Jesus was crucified only attest:
‘myr(a) / oxy / elaben.
And when they were putting up stakes, posts or slats or a palisade
around him, they parted the garments, casting valuable pieces on
we have noticed that the second verse of Mark seems to describe the
erection of a funeral pyre and the ritual deposit of gifts for the dead.
If now the words of the first verse are read from the same viewpoint as in the second, it is conspicuous that MURA—myra—is nearly identical in lettering to PURA—pyra—meaning ‘pyre’, and that MUR—myr—can be confused with PUR—pyr—‘fire’
(think of e.g . ‘pyre’, pile to be burned,
‘pyromaniac’, incendiary, ‘pyrotechnic’,
fireworks, or ‘pyrite’, firestone). OXU—oxy—also
means ‘sour’, but originally ‘sharp’—and
together with verbs of movement or action it takes on the meaning of
‘quickly’. Now, if we combine oxy and elaben, it takes on the sense of: ‘was promptly’, ‘took quickly’, ‘grasped the opportunity’.
Both verses of Mark can now produce a coherent meaning:
while the pyre caught fire, they quickly assembled stakes, posts, slats
and palisades, placed them around it, tore up their garments and threw
valuable pieces on it…’
It would be sufficient, if a copyist had confused PURA = MUR(R)A, pyra and myrrha,
encouraged by the fact that in a Jewish funeral myrrh is used but no
fire, to finally render ‘pyre’ as ‘myrrh’. Then
follows the confusion of the one oxy,
‘quickly/sharp’, with the other meaning
‘sour’—and already we are attending a completely
different funeral: instead of stake, pyre and cremation we have
crucifixion and inhumation.
since we find ourselves already there, let us take a closer look at
Caesar’s funeral using three versions. The first is Appianus:
‘There they collected together pieces of wood and benches, of which there were many in the Forum, and anything else they could find of that sort, for a funeral pyre, throwing upon it the adornments of the procession, some of which were very costly. Some of them cast their own wreaths upon it and many military awards.’
‘…and they hauled benches, barriers and tables from the place and heaped them around the corpse…’
‘…and immediately the throng of bystanders heaped on it dry branches and the judges’ chairs with the court benches and whatever else came to hand and could serve as an offering. Then the flute players and actors pulled off their robes which they had taken from the equipment of his triumphs and put on for the occasion, tore them apart and flung them into the flames, likewise the veterans of the legions threw the arms with which they had adorned themselves for the funeral. Many of the matrons similarly offered up the jewels which they wore together with their children’s lockets and purple-fringed tunics.’
is easy to detect that the passage from Mark is an abridgment of
Caesar’s funeral. The same requisites are present in both. The
defining difference only exists in our minds. It is we who know that
Caesar was burned and Jesus was crucified. But in the cited sentences
and the original text, the required details are the same. The
difference in interpretation is brought and applied by us.
the same way, if in the next sentence the Caesar sources say that the
pile was set alight, it is necessary to know beforehand that the corpse
was burned. Because, as it often happens, so here too the Greek word
may have totally different meanings. Which one is right depends on the
‘Then they set it and all the people waited by the funeral pile throughout the night.’
translators add after ‘they set it’ ‘afire’,
because they know what it is about, so in order that we—not being
used to Greek mental gymnastics and acrobatics—do not loose the
thread. The Greek does not add anything at all, he relies on the
understanding and the knowledge of the reader: after all, he is a Greek
like himself. But what happens if the reader a hundred years later has
a different knowledge and a different understanding, lives in another
country where Greek is a foreign language, finds himself in another
political context wherein the text is possibly used for other purposes
and where the listeners have different interests? Here we find
ourselves wandering along the edge of a precipice: one can sense the
abyss. But back to the text again.
The primary meaning of the word exêpsan is not even ‘set afire’, but actually ‘set on’. Plutarchus chose the version hyphêpsan:
‘to set on from underneath’. We can see what can become of
it. There is something set on (from underneath). If this something is a
fire, it burns; if it is a sign, then it is nailed on; or if it is even
a man, then he is hanging on the cross.
this examination we can conclude that while Jesus’ crucifixion is
not necessarily a crucifixion at all, it actually replicates the
cremation of Caesar.
course, all of this is still speculation and circumstantial evidence.
But now the text itself gives us the opportunity to ascertain whether
the parallels between Caesar and Jesus are coincidental or systematic.
We merely have to check if, for example, the following or preceding
sentences contain the same requisites in both sources. If this can be
shown to be the case, then one cannot speak of coincidence anymore.
The preceding sentence in Appianus:
‘…but the people returned to Caesar’s bier and they bore him to the Capitol…’
And in Mark:
‘…And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.’
It is striking that both sources in the Greek language use the same verb pherô: ‘bear’, ‘carry’, ‘bring’. In Jesus’ case we would have expected the word ‘led’, for he still was alive. This expectation is so strong that it has been correspondingly corrected in some manuscripts.
Even more striking is that the place has the same name: Capitol. In Mark, of course, it is translated: the place of a skull. The Romans derived Capitolium from caput. The tale is that an Etruscan king, Olus (i. e. Aulus Vulcentanus) was killed and buried there, and that the Capitoline temple and hill received its name after his skull was later found: ‘the head of Olus’—caput Oli—Capitolium.
That Golgotha is the translation of place of skull and not vice versa is evident in Luke, who only has ‘the place of skull’ and says that the place was ‘called’ this way (and not translated), as well as in John, who says explicitly that the place was ‘said’ the ‘place of a skull’, which ‘means’ Golgotha in Hebrew.
The wording ‘place of skull’ used by Mark—Kraniou Topos—seems a little stiff in the Greek, and Luke has replaced it by the more graceful ton topon tôn Kraniôn. Therefore the more original version of Mark—Kraniou Topos—was not an appellation, but the name itself. Strangely enough it represents not only the translation of Capitolium, but also its alteration: Capi > Kraniou; tolium > Topos—with the same first letter and confusable lettering of the second part, especially in the accusative: TOLIVM > TOLION > TOPON (the erroneous separation of Capitolium is inevitable because, unlike Latin, no Greek word can end with a ‘t’.)
us have a look at the same passage in Suetonius, where, associated with
the igniting of the funeral pyre, other requisites are
mentioned—this passage immediately precedes the one by Suetonius
cited above. The irrelevant part is in parenthesis:
‘[…and while some were urging that it be burned in the temple of Jupiter Capitoline, and others in the Curia of Pompeius,] suddenly two unknown men, girt with swords and brandishing a pair of javelins, with blazing wax tapers set fire to it.’
Where are the requisites in Mark?
‘And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.’
already know that ‘set fire to’ has become
‘crucify’; and here is the confirmation. The only bemusing
thing is that in Suetonius it was they who lit the fire, whereas in
Mark they are being crucified: in the one case an active, in the other,
a passive role. But he who understands Greek knows that besides active
and passive there is also the famous/infamous medium, so that one and
the same form can mean both ‘to set on / to crucify’ and
‘be set on / be crucified’ it depends on how it is
perceived and how one wants to see it.
two guys girt with swords and brandishing a pair of javelins are
explained simply as thieves. In fact, it was dangerous burning a body
in the Forum, on the Via Sacra, directly in front of the house of the pontifex maximus and the old regia, in the midst all the temples: the regular funeral pyre for Caesar had been erected on the Campus Martius, the Field of Mars—as it had been for his daughter.
Only after Caesar’s being taken up among the gods, was it
possible to reinterpret this sacrilegious act—burning his body in
this most holy place—as his apotheosis, his ascension to heaven.
these guys had two javelins in their hands, apparently one in the right
and one in the left, and because they again were two, they themselves
wound up on crosses—one to his right and one to his left.
Here too the requisites are the same: two anonyms / wrongdoers / the right and the left hand / to set fire to (to crucify).
there are many more requisites in Suetonius and Appianus than we have
seen in Mark so far: the ‘two javelins’ for example; or
above, when the people throw a lot of different things on
Caesar’s funeral pyre: the crowd, the Forum, the flute-players,
the actors, the triumphal garments, the long-serving soldiers, the
legion, the weapons, the wreaths, the military decorations, the
jewelry, the matrons, the golden lockets, the purple-fringed tunics,
the children, the wearing of apparel and taking it off, the throwing
upon, the sacrifice and offerings, the last respects.
What has Mark made of all this?
‘And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.’
recognize many of the requisites at once, even if Mark has rearranged
them masterfully: the soldiers, the Legion (the whole band), the Forum
(hall, or more precisely, Praetorium), the triumphal garment /
purple-fringed tunic (purple), the greeting to Caesar at his last
triumph ave rex (rendered literally: ‘Hail, King’),
the actors (the mockery by the soldiers), the last respects (the
worshipping), the donning of apparel, the disrobing, the throwing upon,
(clothe, unclothe, reclothe).
Other requisites are more hidden, however: the flute-players—tibicines—now smite with a reed. Flute, in Latin tibia, ‘hollow cylindrical bone’, is correctly rendered in Greek as kalamos, ‘reed’ (in both languages the instrument is named after the material), the second part of tibi-cines, -cines, is derived instead from the Latin cano, ‘sing’, ‘play’ from the nearer sounding Greek kinô, ‘move’; the verb ruled by tibicines is inicere,
which not only means ‘throw above’, but sometimes
‘smite on’: so both verbs fuse and the
‘flute-players’ become those who ‘smite with the
reed’. The weapons and the wreaths of the soldiers are braided
together to a crown of thorns: the weapons mentioned are the
‘spears’ (borne by the two strangers)—in Latin iaculum, in Greek akontion; stephanos ‘wreath’ was the next word; but akanthinos stephanos
means wreath of thorns: out of ‘spear’ and
‘wreath’ we get a ‘pointed wreath’, a
‘wreath of thorns’, a ‘crown of thorns’.
Consequently ‘throw upon’ here becomes ‘put
on’—‘put on the head’. The
‘matrons’ together with ‘the children’ goneus, gonê are generally mistaken as gony
‘knee’ and that is why the soldiers fall down on their
knees. Finally the ‘lockets’ on the necks of the children,
being hollow in order to contain the heraldic amulet of the family, are
named in Latin bullae, literally ‘bubbles’: misunderstood as ‘bubbles of saliva’, they become ‘spit in the face’.
there is nothing missing. No word has been taken away or added. The
same words were only taken in another meaning, which made a
reorganisation of the story necessary in order for it to make sense
again—but of course it becomes a different one. The
interpretation changes, but the requisites—even though
transformed—continue to exist.
addition, this passage gives us the opportunity to prove the
resistibility of the requisites. We have just seen how two different
requisites in the Caesar story—the triumphal garment of the
actors and the children’s purple-fringed tunics—compete
with each other to represent the purple in which the soldiers in
Mark’s story array Jesus. This means that one of the requisites
in the Caesar sources has not been used. It hovers in the ether,
wandering around, waiting for the opportunity to be put to a
‘sensible’ use elsewhere. It is easy to detect whether it
is the triumphal garment of the actors or the children’s
purple-fringed tunics: the purple and the wreath belong together with
the triumphal garment, whereas the children’s tunics only have a
purple fringe. So the still unused requisite is the children’s
tunics. What is it called in Latin? Simply praetexta—literally
‘pre-woven’. The meaning was that something additional was
woven at the front: in the case of the togas of officials and senators
it was the well-known purple border; in the case of the children it
would have been a tunic with purple borders as well, like we still see
today with our choristers of the Catholic churches, sometimes even with
floral patterns. This term ‘pre-woven tunic’ has not been
used by Mark at all: we have to wait for it to turn up in another
place. As we have seen, Matthew and Luke depend much on Mark, so it is
better to seek it in John. We find it right away:
‘Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.’
The King James Bible says coat for tunic. John says chitôn, i.e. exactly the same, even etymologically, as the Latin tunica. Praetexta,
‘pre-woven’ is understood as ‘woven before, not
sewn’ and indeed ‘from the top throughout’ like the
purple borders of the Romans as well.
The following sentence by Appianus (we already know the beginning):
‘[Then they set alight the pyre] and all the people waited there throughout the night.’
And in Mark as read in the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D):
‘And it was the third hour, and they watched over him.’
‘And the people stood beholding.’ … ‘And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.’
too, we can observe the congruence of requisites—the people
keeping vigil, the darkness. In regards to the amount of time involved,
it is obvious by the variety offered that they were later suggestions
by the Evangelists. As a matter of fact, the Greek hôra
can mean any arbitrary period of time, from the seasons right down to
the hour, whether it be day or night. The ‘third hour’ of
Mark could quite well be ‘the third night-watch’.
Before we continue comparing the whole Gospel with the entire Vita Caesaris, a brief interim assessment seems appropriate. Here we have seen that the Vita Caesaris
and the story of Jesus, looked at from an arbitrary point, be it
forwards or backwards, when comparing the oldest sources, in the
original text, not only exhibit the same requisites, but in the same
order, and in some passages they even show the exact same sequences.
And if the requisites differ from each other, it is because another
translation was made, but any resulting abnormalities still remain
within the bounds of normal folk-etymologies and the mistakes of
such parallels are too inherent to be attributed to literary topoi and
even more so because Caesar’s biography is history and not
literature—there is only one interpretation left: the Gospel is a
Greek version of the Vita Caesaris although an anomalous one.
It looks as if the fact that Matthew (in particular), by infusing the
text with so many citations from the Jewish Bible, adulterated the
picture to such an extent that the most Roman story of all—which
had belonged to the whole empire and its peoples—could emerge as
a Jewish one.
now want to test this concretized hypothesis by returning to the
question we asked initially: Where is the cross in the Caesar story?
have seen that in all likelihood Jesus was not crucified whilst alive,
and perhaps not even at all. Then, we observed that his crucifixion
shows a high structural conformity with Caesar’s cremation. Now,
in the case of Jesus, the cross cannot be ignored. We are not inclined
to think that Mark has simply fantasized the cross on the basis of a
martyr’s stake due to the presence of all the court benches,
judges’ seats and palisades. This would contradict his painfully
meticulous treatment of the requisites, even if his result has fallen
wide of the mark. If the Gospel is the hidden Vita Caesaris,
then a dominant role must have been played by a requisite, that by its
nature would have predestined it to be mistaken for a cross in a
changed environment, and indeed, it would have to have been connected
with Caesar’s funeral, even if it was a cremation.
let us follow the procedure of Caesar’s funeral with more
attention, with special concern for the imagery used there. What we
will behold is an unusual tropaeum with an unexpected image of Caesar
attached to it, and we will hear the voice of an unsettling face of
[ for the missing passages please refer to the printed edition ]
[ Crux2 ]
Notes to III. Crux1
 Mk. 14:61: ὁ δὲ ἐσιώπα καὶ οὐκ ἀπεκρίνατο οὐδέν. Mk. 15:5: ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς οὐκέτι οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίθη […]. [<]
 Mk. 14:62: ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Σὺ εἶπας ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι (Θφ pc arm Or); 15:2: ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ λέγει, Σὺ λέγεις. [<]
 Mk. 15:34: Ελωι
Ὁ θεός μου ὁ
θεός μου, εἰς
με; Mt. 27:46: Ηλι
τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν, Θεέ
μου θεέ μου,
ἐγκατέλιπες; Lk. 23:46: Πάτερ,
πνεῦμά μου. Jn. 19:26: Γύναι, ἴδε ὁ υἱός σου. 19:27: Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ σου. 19:28: Διψῶ. 19:30: Τετέλεσται.
 Mk. 15:22: […] καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν Γολγοθᾶν τόπον, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Κρανίου Τόπος. [<]
 Jn. 19:33-4: ἐπὶ δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐλθόντες […] ἀλλ᾿ εἷς τῶν στρατιωτῶν λόγχῃ αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευρὰν ἔνυξεν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν εὐθὺς αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ. [<]
 Jn. 19:35: καὶ ὁ ἑωρακὼς μεμαρτύρηκεν, καὶ ἀληθινὴ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ἡ μαρτυρία, καὶ ἐκεῖνος οἶδεν ὅτι ἀληθῆ λέγει, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς πιστεύ[σ]ητε. [<]
 Jn. 19:36-7: ἐγένετο γὰρ ταῦτα ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ, […] Ὄψονται εἰς ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν. [<]
 Acta Pilati XVI, in Schneemelcher (1990), vol. 1, p. 413. [<]
 Mk. 14:47: εἷς δέ [τις] τῶν παρεστηκότων σπασάμενος τὴν μάχαιραν ἔπαισεν τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως καὶ ἀφεῖλεν αὐτοῦ τὸ ὠτάριον. [<]
 Mk. 14:48: καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ὡς ἐπὶ λῃστὴν ἐξήλθατε μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων συλλαβεῖν με; [<]
 App. BC 2.117: πολλοί τε διωθιζόμενοι μετὰ τῶν ξιφῶν ἀλλήλους ἔπληξαν. [<]
 Servants appear at the attempt on Caesar as well. We will see later in what role; cf. Suet. Jul. 82. [<]
 App. BC 2.117: καὶ Κάσσιος ἐς τὸ πρόσωπον ἔπληξε. [<]
 Suet. Jul. 82: Nec in tot vulneribus, ut Antistius medicus existimabat, letale ullum repertum est, nisi quod secundo loco in pectore acceperat. [<]
 Mk. 15:26: καὶ ἦν ἡ ἐπιγραφὴ τῆς αἰτίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιγεγραμμένη, Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. Lk. 23:38: ἦν δὲ καὶ ἐπιγραφὴ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ, Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων οὗτος. Mt. 27:37: καὶ ἐπέθηκαν ἐπάνω τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ τὴν αἰτίαν αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένην· Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. Jn. 19:19: ἔγραψεν δὲ καὶ τίτλον ὁ Πιλᾶτος καὶ ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ· ἦν δὲ γεγραμμένον, Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. [<]
 For the written fixation of the accusation against Caesar cf. Cic. Phil. 2.85-7: […]
adscribi iussit in fastis ad Lupercalia C. Caesari dictatori perpetuo
M. Antonium consulem populi iussu regnum detulisse: Caesarem uti
 Cf. i. a. Suet. Jul. 79-80: proximo autem senatu Lucium Cottam quindecimvirum sententiam dicturum, ut, quoniam fatalibus libris contineretur Parthos nisi a rege non posse vinci, Caesar rex appellaretur. quae causa coniuratis maturandi fuit destinata negotia, ne assentiri necesse esset. [<]
 Cf. Magie (1905), p. 62, 68. [<]
 Mk. 15:21: Καὶ ἀγγαρεύουσιν παράγοντά τινα Σίμωνα Κυρηναῖον ἐρχόμενον ἀπ᾿ ἀγροῦ, τὸν πατέρα Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου, ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ. [<]
 The form ἄρῃ is an active one (conj. aor. I a., 3. s.). One could only translate it with ‘would carry’ if the respective medium: ἄρηται—‘he carried for himself, he carried away’ were in place here. For airô in contrast to pherô cf. Mk. 2:3: καὶ ἔρχονται φέροντες πρὸς αὐτὸν παραλυτικὸν αἰρόμενον ὑπὸ τεσσάρων. Mk. 6:8 does not contradict it, because there airô is used in the sense of ‘to carry with themselves; to take along’. [<]
 Mk. 15:24: καὶ σταυρώσαντες αὐτὸν διαμερίζονται τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντες κλῆρον ἐπ᾿ αὐτὰ […]; Mt. 27:35: σταυρώσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντες κλῆρον […]; Lk. 23:33: […] ἐκεῖ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτὸν῎; […]; Jn. 19:18: […] ὅπου αὐτὸν ἐσταύρωσαν […]. [<]
 ‘Cross’ in the sense of ‘to make a cross’ is in classic Greek chiasma respectively chiasmos, ‘to order anything cross-shape’ chiazô. These words are also familiar to us, for example as chiasma, the ‘crossing over’ of chromosomes in biology or as chiasmus, ‘to put crosswise’ in the syntax. The basis was the letter chi = X,
for the Greeks the genuine symbol of the cross. ‘Cross’ in
the meaning of ‘to carry his cross’, hence for
‘pain’ is called ponos, penthos or lypê. Stavros,
which as noted above originally meant ‘stake’,
‘slat’ or ‘palisade’, was never associated with
the cross in classic times, and even when in the course of the
Christianization it took on the meaning ‘cross’ in the
sense of the ‘martyr-stake’, its symbol was a T and not a
 Mk. 15:23: […] καὶ ἐδίδουν αὐτῷ ἐσμυρνισμένον οἶνον· ὃς δὲ οὐκ ἔλαβεν. [<]
 Mt. 27:34: ἔδωκαν αὐτῷ πιεῖν ὄξος μετὰ χολῆς μεμιγμένον· καὶ γευσάμενος οὐκ ἠθέλησεν πιεῖν. [<]
 Lk. 23:36: οἱ στρατιῶται προσερχόμενοι, ὄξος προσφέροντες αὐτῷ […]. [<]
 Lk. 23:55-6: ἐθεάσαντο τὸ μνημεῖον καὶ ὡς ἐτέθη τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ, ὑποστρέψασαι δὲ ἡτοίμασαν ἀρώματα καὶ μύρα. [<]
 It should not be a surprise that ‘aromatics’ respectively ‘aromatics and ointments’ is found here: aromatics were used at funerals in both forms to alleviate the cadaverous smell, they were used in cremations to an even greater extent. Besides incense, sometimes whole dolls of cloves were burned as well. Oils and ointments were used for the same purpose and for the preservation of the corpse before the cremation, which sometimes happened many days later, see below. [<]
 Jn. 19:29-30: σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος—‘Ysop’ ὑσσώπῳ or ὑσσῷ—(h)yssô(i)—looks like a doublet of vinegar ὄξῳ—oxô(i)—but on the other hand like the anagram of ‘Piso’, Caesar’s father in law, who took charge of the funeral and who brought the body to the Forum. [<]
 Jn. 19:39-40: […] φέρων μίγμα σμύρνης καὶ ἀλόης ὡς λίτρας ἑκατόν. ἔλαβον οὖν τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἔδησαν αὐτὸ ὀθονίοις μετὰ τῶν ἀρωμάτων, καθὼς ἔθος ἐστὶν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ἐνταφιάζειν. [<]
 This word comes from ΣΜΥΡΝΑ—smyrna—variation of ΜΥΡΡΑ—myrrha—like for example smikros could stand for mikros, ‘small’: The sigma tends to proliferate in Greek. The use of smyrna for myrrha could be based on the fact that these, like the other oriental aromatics, were imported into Greece through the port of Smyrna, located at the mouth of the Persian royal trade route, which stretched from Susa over Sardes to Ionia. But because with the ΜΥΡΑ—myra—of Luke only the part myr is common—esMYRnismenon (the beginning of the word es- can be a prefix in Greek)—so only ΜΥΡ(Α)—myr(a)—appears to be certain. For that matter the difference between ‘rr’ and ‘r’ in ΜΥΡΡΑ and ΜΥΡΑ is irrelevant, because in the late classical period the double consonants were pronounced like single ones. Cf. Charalambakis (1984), Σ. 88 7.1.7: Τά διπλά σύμφωνα (ἄλ–λος, ἄμ–μος) ἄρχισαν νά ἁπλοποιοῦνται στήν προφορά. [<]
 App. BC 2.148: […] καὶ ξύλα αὐτῷ καὶ βάθρα, ὅσα πολλὰ ἦν ἐν ἀγορᾷ, καὶ εἴ τι τοιουτότροπον ἄλλο συνενεγκόντες, καὶ τὴν πομπὴν δαψιλεστάτην οὖσαν ἐπιβαλόντες, στεφάνους τε ἔνιοι παρ' ἑαυτῶν καὶ ἀριστεῖα πολλὰ ἐπιθέντες […]. [<]
 Plut. Caes. 68: […] αὐτῶν τὸ πάθος, ἀλλὰ τῷ μὲν νεκρῷ περισωρεύσαντες ἐξ ἀγορᾶς βάθρα καὶ κιγκλίδας καὶ τραπέζας […]. [<]
 Suet. Jul. 84: […] confestimque circumstantium turba virgulta arida et cum subsellis tribunalia, quicquid praeterea ad donum aderat, congessit. deinde tibicines et scaenici artifices vestem, quam ex triumphorum instrumento ad praesentem usum induerant, detractam sibi atque discissam iniecere flammae et veteranorum militum legionarii arma sua, quibus exculti funus celebrabant; matronae etiam pleraeque ornamenta sua, quae gerebant, et liberorum bullas atque praetextas. [<]
 App. BC 2.148: ἐξῆψαν καὶ τὴν νύκτα πανδημεὶ τῇ πυρᾷ παρέμενον […]. [<]
This polysemy of verbs occurs in every language. For example in German
when a car ‘hält an’—literally ‘holds
on’—it stops; but if the rain ‘hält
an’—also literally ‘holds on’—it
continues; if a law is ‘aufgehoben’– literally
‘lifted up’—it is ‘repealed’ and gone,
but if milk is ‘aufgehoben’—also literally
‘lifted up’—it is ‘retained’ and you
still have it; if a synthesis occurs and ‘hebt
auf’—‘lifts up’—thesis and antithesis, it
‘resolves’ them, although the student of philosophy might
ruminate: ‘aufgehoben’ as in the case with law or milk?
 App. BC 2.148: […] ὁ δὲ δῆμος ἐπὶ τὸ λέχος τοῦ Καίσαρος ἐπανελθὼν ἔφερον αὐτὸ ἐς τὸ Καπιτώλιον […]. [<]
 Mk. 15:22: […] καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν Γολγοθᾶν τόπον, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Κρανίου Τόπος. [<]
 αγουσιν Dφ lat—cf. Aland & Nestle (181957). [<]
 Arnobius Adversus gentes VI 7; Servius Aeneid-Commentary VIII 345; the chronograph of the year 354 specifies that ‘caput Oli regis’ was written on the skull in Etruscan letters; cf. also Isidor Origines XV 2.31. [<]
 Lk. 23:33: […] τὸν
Κρανίον […]; Jn. 19:17: […] τὸν
Κρανίου Τόπον, ὃ
Γολγοθᾶ […]; Matthew does not contradict this, because both times he says ‘called’: 27:33: τόπον
 Suet. Jul. 84: Quem cum pars in Capitolini Iovis cella cremare, pars in curia Pompei destinaret, repente duo quidam gladiis succinti ac bina iacula gestantes ardentibus cereis succenderunt […]. [<]
 Mk. 15:27: Καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ σταυροῦσιν δύο λῃστάς, ἕνα ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ ἕνα ἐξ εὐωνύμων αὐτοῦ. [<]
 Suet. Jul. 84: Funere indicto rogus instructus est in martio campo iuxta Iuliae tumulum […]. This was independent of the fact that it was part of the honor decrees adopted for Caesar that he should be interred within the Pomerium (cf. Dio Cass. HR 44.7.1). [<]
 Mk. 15:16-20: Οἱ δὲ στρατιῶται ἀπήγαγον αὐτὸν ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς, ὅ ἐστιν πραιτώριον, καὶ συγκαλοῦσιν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν. καὶ ἐνδιδύσκουσιν αὐτὸν πορφύραν καὶ περιτιθέασιν αὐτῷ πλέξαντες ἀκάνθινον στέφανον· καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀσπάζεσθαι αὐτόν, Χαῖρε, βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων· καὶ ἔτυπτον αὐτοῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν καλάμῳ καὶ ἐνέπτυον αὐτῷ καὶ τιθέντες τὰ γόνατα προσεκύνουν αὐτῷ. καὶ ὅτε ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ, ἐξέδυσαν αὐτὸν τὴν πορφύραν καὶ ἐνέδυσαν αὐτὸν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἐξάγουσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα σταυρώσωσιν αὐτόν. [<]
 Jn. 19:23: Οἱ οὖν στρατιῶται ὅτε ἐσταύρωσαν τὸν Ἰησοῦν, ἔλαβον τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐποίησαν τέσσαρα μέρη, ἑκάστῳ στρατιώτῃ μέρος, καὶ τὸν χιτῶνα. ἦν δὲ ὁ χιτὼν ἄρραφος, ἐκ τῶν ἄνωθεν ὑφαντὸς δι᾿ ὅλου. [<]
 App. BC 2.148: ἐξῆψαν καὶ τὴν νύκτα πανδημεὶ τῇ πυρᾷ παρέμενον […]. [<]
 Mk. 15:25: ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν (D: εφύλασσον) αὐτόν. Here the lection of D has to be preferred, as lectio difficilior. An emendation to ‘and they crucified him and watched over him’ would not change anything. [<]
 Lk. 23:35: καὶ εἱστήκει ὁ λαὸς θεωρῶν. 23:44: Καὶ
ἦν ἤδη ὡσεὶ ὥρα ἕκτη
ἐγένετο ἐφ᾿ ὅλην
τὴν γῆν ἕως ὥρας
ἐνάτης […]. [<]